Mesothelioma Causes

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested they cause scarring and inflammation, which can lead to mesothelioma. A mesothelioma tumor typically takes decades to develop after the initial exposure to asbestos.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Diagram showing how asbestos develops into pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma

How Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma Are Caused

Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma. Most people diagnosed with the disease worked jobs that required them to handle asbestos-containing products. 

There are no other proven causes of mesothelioma. Researchers continue to investigate other potential causes and risk factors such as exposure to the SV40 virus or minerals that resemble asbestos.

Mesothelioma was virtually unknown until the 20th century. Mesothelioma incidence rates rose as industries expanded the use of asbestos.