Mesothelioma is a type of cancer or a disease process that begins when an abnormal cell is transformed by the genetic mutation of the cellular DNA and a cancerous cell develops in the area. This abnormal cell forms a clone and begins to proliferate abnormally, ignoring growth-regulating signals in the environment surrounding the cell.
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The cells acquire invasive characteristics, and changes occur in surrounding tissues.
Although mesothelioma affects every age group, most cases occur in people older than 50 years of age or those who have been exposed to asbestos for quite a long time. Overall, the incidence of mesothelioma is higher in men than in women and higher in industrialized sectors and nations, where asbestos is frequently used in building infrastructures.
Asbestos is the number one factor that causes mesothelioma. The term mesothelioma is taken from the word mesothelium, a protective thin sheet that covers the internal organs of the body, such as the lungs. When a person inhales asbestos, “glass-like” particles stick in the lungs, which eventually results to respiratory complications. After which, this develops cancerous cells.
More than 7,000 Americans have already been diagnosed and died from 1990 through 2001 with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is second only to cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death for industry workers in the United States. Each year, more than 1,000 Americans die of a malignant process.