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Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

While mesothelioma is not contagious, it is a fatal disease and there is no known cure. The only known cause for mesothelioma is the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

Asbestos: Cause of mesothelioma

The main risk factor for malignant mesothelioma is contact with asbestos. If a person breathes in asbestos fibers, which then travel to the ends of the small air passages and reach the lining of the lungs, they can damage the mesothelial cells (the lining of the lung cells). If swallowed, these fibers can reach the lining of the abdominal cavity where they cause a cancer called peritoneal mesothelioma.

Who's at risk for mesothelioma?

Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos. Others have been exposed to asbestos in their homes, often without knowing it. People who work with asbestos can bring home the fibers on their clothes, thereby exposing their loved ones and putting them at risk of mesothelioma.

The men and women who have had their lives ruined by this devastating disease – together with the families of deceased victims – have received hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from employers and asbestos manufacturers.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and would like to learn more about the disease, visit the Mesothelioma Resource Center.