Between 70% to 80% of all cases of mesothelioma involve patients who have a known history of asbestos exposure at work. Mesothelioma is an asbestos cancer developed from inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers. About 20% of mesothelioma patients have peritoneal mesothelioma, which is located in the lining of the abdomen that encases several abdominal organs. The mesothelia are membranes that protect the lungs, the heart, and most organs in the abdomen. They consist of two layers, the parietal layer that lines the chest cavity, or the abdominal cavity, and the visceral layer that lines the individual organs. The mesothelia produce a fluid between their layers that provide a layer of lubrication on which they glide, allowing the organs within to move freely.Mesothelioma is a tumor, or mass, that develops after many years of irritation and inflammation caused by asbestos fibers that lodge in a mesothilial layer of either the lung or peritoneum. It begins in just one layer of the mesothilia, and usually in the pleura, on one side of the chest. This slow-growing cancer can take up to 50 years to manifest as mesothelioma and produce enough symptoms that the affected person seeks medical help.
Smoking and Mesothelioma
While smoking does not appear to increase the risk of developing mesothelioma, neither does it cause mesothelioma, but it does it significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer is a cancer located within the lung tissue, specifically in the lungs airways. Asbestos has not been shown to cause cancer within the lung tissue. Asbestos fibers that become lodged in the lung tissue can cause another serious disease caused asbestosis. Asbestosis causes scaring of the lung tissue that causes the lungs to function poorly. Those afflicted with asbestosis experience restricted breathing capacity.
While smoking does not cause mesothelioma, when combined with asbestos exposure it significantly increases the risk of getting lung cancer. Evidence shows that if you have been exposed to asbestos, especially in the work place, you can significantly reduce your risk of getting lung cancer if you quit smoking. If you even think you may have worked with asbestos in the home or the workplace, it is vital that you reduce your risk of lung cancer by giving up smoking.