Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer affecting millions of Americans. While some people are affected by this disease because of their age and family history, others develop it because of variable risk factors. It might surprise Pennsylvania residents that some malignant mesothelioma patients have little to no known risk factors. Here are some of the risk factors that could lead to mesothelioma.

Risk factors that lead to peritoneal and plural mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos is one of the most common causes of mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure occurs when tiny fibers in rocks and soil are released into the air and inhaled. If these fibers are inhaled and then swallowed, the disease could affect a victim’s stomach and become peritoneal mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma occurs whenever someone continually inhales asbestos fibers, and the fibers remain in a person’s lungs, injuring the cells of the pleura. Through time, the fibers could also damage the lung cells and cause lung cancer, also known as asbestosis.

While asbestos exposure in low levels naturally occurs in outside air, high exposures commonly occur at various workplaces, such as mines, construction sites, factories, automotive shops and railroads. Family members of affected workers can also be exposed when these workers bring the substance home on their clothing.

Risk factors that cannot be changes

While some risk factors leading to mesothelioma can be changed, such as smoking, other factors cannot. One such factor is gender. Because more men than women select occupations where they are exposed to asbestos, there is a higher percentage of this disease in men than in women. Another factor is age. Although mesothelioma can occur in young people and children, it is rare. Most people who have the disease are older than 45. Roughly two out of three people who have mesothelioma of the chest are at least 65 years of age or older.

Legal solutions available for workers and their families affected by mesothelioma

Those who believe they developed mesothelioma at the workplace may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may pay for their medical expenses associated with this work-related disease. For those who are ineligible or denied benefits, an attorney may help victims with another legal route to compensation.