Risk Factors

Certain factors are associated with increased risk of developing Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma:

Asbestos. Asbestos is a heat-resistant mineral used in fire-resistant and insulating materials. Exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor for developing MPM. Occupational asbestos exposure is common among shipyards, power plants, chemical plants, construction and industrial sites, metalworkers as well as among automotive mechanics. Secondary exposure affects the family members of individuals who have been exposed to asbestos at work and who bring the particles home on their clothing, hair and skin. Environmental exposure is a concern for those who reside near mineral deposits. Approximately 50 to 80 percent of patients diagnosed with MPM can pinpoint the event in their lives in which they were exposed to asbestos.

Radiation. Radiation is another risk factor associated with MPM. Radiation-induced malignant mesothelioma appears to have a better prognosis than asbestos-related mesothelioma. Radiation for the treatment of Hodgins or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common reason patients have received radiation to the chest cavity.

Environmental and Genetic Factors. A significant percentage of mesothelioma patients have not been exposed to asbestos. Experts argue that a genetic predisposition and environmental factors may play a role in disease pathogenesis.  The risk of getting mesothelioma after an occupational lifetime of asbestos exposure remains at somewhere between 3-7 percent.  So the risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure is low.

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