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Is Mesothelioma Contagious?

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.

One of the main reasons why people think mesothelioma is contagious is that sometimes several people within the same area or household develop mesothelioma. However, just because multiple people within the same region or household develop mesothelioma does not mean the disease is contagious. People in the same workplace, house, or geographic area may all experience asbestos exposure, thus leading to them developing mesothelioma. Consider the story of Libby, Montana. Vermiculite mining in Libby exposed many workers and residents to asbestos. So far, hundreds of Libby residents have died, and thousands more are currently suffering from asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma. In the case of Libby, Montana, the workers and residents did not contract mesothelioma from one other. Rather, it is the asbestos that they were exposed to that led to them developing mesothelioma.

Asbestos Fibers Can Pass From One Person to Another

Most mesothelioma patients are individuals who used to work with asbestos. However, there are cases of people who have developed mesothelioma even if they have never worked with asbestos. Such cases mainly exist because of something known as “secondhand/secondary asbestos exposure.” Sometimes, people who work with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated material do not know they have been exposed to asbestos fibers. So, they go home with the same clothes they have been working with all day without properly decontaminating them. If a person who works with asbestos goes home with asbestos-contaminated clothing, they could expose everyone they live with to asbestos. Construction workers, for example, who have a high risk of occupational asbestos exposure can take asbestos fibers home if the fibers cling to their clothes, hairs, and tools.

In conclusion, it is crucial to note that while mesothelioma and cancers, in general, are not contagious, there have been rare cases of cancer transferring from donors to recipients. However, keep in mind that the immune system can be weakened by certain medicines. This can happen to individuals following organ transplants who take medication to prevent organ rejection.

Nationwide Mesothelioma Lawyers

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.



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