How did I get it?
It is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a fiber that was once widely used hundreds of building industrial, commercial and housing products and is still present in millions of U.S. workplaces and homes. The disease does not appear for at least 15 years after exposure to asbestos. The risk of exposure to asbestos — and the risk of malignant mesothelioma – remain a very real danger.
Cause of the Cancer
Exposure to asbestos, a group of microscopic mineral fibers, is the cause of this cancer. There are six sub-classification of asbestos: actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysolite, crocidolite, and tremolite. Asbestos, the commercial name given to these fibers, was a valuable material in several industries, particularly steel manufacturing and shipyards, in the early to mid-20th century. Asbestos easily separates when handled, causing microscopic particles to be released into the air that are subsequently inhaled by anyone in the vicinity. A vast majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos on job sites. The typical latency period (time between exposure to asbestos and visible symptoms) can range from 15 to over 50 years. One study published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene in 2003 analyzed 796 cases of asbestos-related disease. The latency period was about three years less for asbestosis vs mesothelioma. Patients with latency periods of less than 20 years were extremely rare, accounting for only 3 percent of asbestosis cases and 2 percent of mesothelioma cases.