Asbestos only causes problems when it's cut or disturbed in some way
because this releases the tiny fibres that you can breathe in. Once inside the
lungs, these fibres can cause inflammation, fibrosis (scarring) and cancer.
Asbestos can also be swallowed when the tiny fibres are air borne.
So who can get mesothelioma?
Some cases require prolonged and high exposure levels, such as those of
people who worked, unprotected, in industries using asbestos prior to 1970.
These industries include:
How Much Exposure
But other patients received relatively short exposure, sometimes only
months or weeks. Cases have been recorded of patients whose only exposure was
when changing the brake linings on their cars and breathing the dust.
Others had "passive" exposure, such as women who washed their
husbands and son's work clothes.
The disease can appear 20 years after exposure or as long as 50 years
after, and some experts believe that cases will continue to rise until at least
Always seek competent medical advice so your doctor can make an accurate
diagnosis. The earlier you're diagnosed, the better your chances.
help you and your family through this difficult time, see Dr Ian Gawler's book,
OF MIND. Diagnosed with incurable bone cancer in 1975 and given only months
to live, Ian Gawler has been helping other cancer sufferers through his Cancer
Support Group since 1981.