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Mesothelioma: Occupations Most at Risk

Author: Asbestos.Net

Published: 2009-03-25 : (Rev. 2013-06-18)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Occupations at risk of malignant type of mesothelioma the most hazardous form of cancer which may be deadly in many cases.

Main Digest

Mesothelioma (mez-uh-thee-lee-O-muh) is a type of cancer that can be either malignant or benign. The malignant type of mesothelioma is the most hazardous form of cancer and may be deadly in most cases. This cancer affects the tissue mesothelium, which protects the heart, stomach, lungs, and other organs by making a special fluid that allows the organs to move.

Causes of Mesothelioma

Almost always this type of cancer is caused by previous exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a kind of fiber present in insulation and building substances because of its resistance to heat, chemical damage, and electricity and is naked to the human eye. It is unclear how long the correlation between asbestos and mesothelioma has been known, but researchers have found some correlation between the two as recently as the 1960s.

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer where early diagnosis increases the amount of effective treatments. Unfortunately, due to the way it forms, the cancer may not manifest until anywhere between 20 to 50 years after an asbestos exposure. Regardless of when the asbestos exposure occurred, it is important to tell your doctor so that the correct diagnosis can be made.

Occupations At Risk

Exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers has caused the development of cancer in a variety of different employees and occupations over the years. The fibers, once inhaled or ingested, begin to scar the tissue inside of the body. 70 to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases reported were because of exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Because it takes anywhere between 20 to 50 years to manifest, occupations held in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and even into the 1970s may cause mesothelioma in lives today.

Such occupations may include:

Auto Mechanics
Brake Mechanics
Bulldozer Operators
Cement Finishers
Construction Workers
Drywall Tapers
Foundry Workers
Mason Laborers
Merchant Marine Seamen
Navy Personnel
Pipe fitters and coverer's
Railroad Workers

Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some point in their life because there are low levels found in the air, water, and soil. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases typically manifest after a lengthy exposure, but in some cases a short intense exposure could cause a person to develop mesothelioma. For example, survivors, first responders, and those nearby at the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center may also be at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. These include firefighters, policeman, volunteers, paramedics, construction workers, and nearby residents.

Asbestos exposure that may lead to mesothelioma could also occur in non occupational exposure. Although the occurrence of mesothelioma is three times more common in men than women, some cases have been found in women and children whose exposure has been through contact with the clothing of those who worked with asbestos.

Reference: The Asbestos Cancer and Mesothelioma Support Center at Asbestos.Net

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