The researchers have discovered several factors that increase the risk of mesothelioma, but it is not yet clear how all these factors could cause this cancer.
The mesothelioma most commonly occurs in the tissues of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the tissue of the abdomen (peritoneal), in the tissue surrounding the heart (pericardial tissue) and in the tissue around the testes (tunica vaginalis).
The mesothelium is composed of mesothelial cells that form a protective surface and play a role in many processes including fluid transport, inflammation, and tissue repair.
The mesothelium forms the pleural, peritoneal and pericardial cavities as well as the test.
When inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers can invade the mesothelium and injure the mesothelial cells, ultimately leading to malignant tumors.
How mesothelioma occur
Cancers, including mesotheliomas, occur when the cell’s DNA is damaged. DNA is the chemical in each of our cells that makes up our genes – the instructions for how our cells work. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA.
However, DNA affects more than our appearance. Some genes control when the body’s cells grow, divide into new cells and die. Changes in these genes can cause uncontrolled cell proliferation, which can lead to cancer.
Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of pleural mesothelioma.
About 8 in 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.
When the asbestos fibers are sucked, they go to the ends of the small air passages and reach the pleura, where they can cause inflammation and scarring.
This could damage the cells’ DNA and cause changes leading to uncontrolled cell growth. If ingested, these fibers may reach the abdominal lining, where they may play a role in the occurrence of peritoneal mesothelioma. However, most people exposed to asbestos, even in large quantities, do not contract mesothelioma.
Radiation treatments for other cancers have been associated with mesothelioma in some studies. Radiation can damage cell DNA, leading to uncontrollable cell growth.