It is a myth that mesothelioma is a hereditary disease. However, there is likelihood that people living in the same household might be prone to this form of cancer. This is because they are also exposed to asbestos fibers that are brought home by their family member working in a site where asbestos is used. As these fibers are very fine and light, they can become airborne and enter the lungs of an unsuspecting family member.
It is a proven fact that mesothelioma is not hereditary or contagious. This myth has developed due to the reason that family members, like spouses or children, can also develop this deadly disease due to secondary asbestos exposure. Family members might inhale or ingest the asbestos fibers and develop mesothelioma.
The various risk factors for mesothelioma are environmental or behavioral conditions. Though risk factors do not ensure that a person can get a disease or not, they give us statistical details on whether he can develop a disease as dangerous as mesothelioma.For malignant mesothelioma, the primary risk factor is asbestos exposure. Almost 90% of malignant mesothelioma cases are caused due to major occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos. Statistics indicate that over eight million Americans has been exposed to asbestos either at workplace or through usage of commercial products or in homes or schools or secondary exposure to an individual working in industries using asbestos and are prone to contracting this deadly disease.
The primary factors in identifying the risk factor for a person by asbestos exposure are the time of the asbestos exposure, duration of being exposed to it and the level of the exposure. As this disease has a longer period of latency like 20 to 50 years in most of the cases, there are chances that a person might have been exposed to it at young age but symptoms start appearing at his old age.