Mesothelioma, just like other forms of cancer, is not contagious. Touching, sharing meals, or even breathing the same air cannot spread mesothelioma. Generally, cancer cells from a cancer patient cannot live in the body of a healthy person because the immune system usually destroys foreign cells, including cancer cells from a cancer patient.
How Does a Person Get Mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure is still the only known cause of mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, about eight out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a highly toxic substance that was commonly used before the 1980s, especially in construction, because of its durability and heat-resistant properties. When asbestos is disturbed, asbestos fibers get released into the air. If a person inhales asbestos fibers, the fibers can get into the lungs. When asbestos fibers get into the lungs, they can travel to the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. Over time, asbestos fibers that reach the pleura can cause inflammation and scarring and cause mesothelioma.