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Can you get mesothelioma without asbestos exposure?


In the world of medicine, mesothelioma is among the cancers most strongly associated with a single carcinogen. Over 80% of cases of the disease are associated with exposure to the fibrous mineral. And since mesothelioma is itself relatively rare, that means cases of the disease caused by something else are few indeed. Still, it’s possible to get mesothelioma without asbestos exposure.


One other cause is exposure to minerals that are similar in form to asbestos, such as erionite. Since these minerals don’t have commercial applications, exposure mostly affects people who live in areas where they form naturally.


Can you get mesothelioma without asbestos exposure?


Another cause is radiation used in medical treatments. Although this is rare, some reports exist of pleural, peritoneul, and pericardiul mesothelioma being caused after a patient received radiation therapy, such as in treatment of a different cancer. In some cases, the patient had been given thorium dioxide as contrast agent to make x-rays easier to read; this radioactive substance is now considered too dangerous to use.


Being exposed to radiation while working at a nuclear power plant is also a potential, though rare, cause of the disease. As with asbestos exposure, mesothelioma in these cases can arise up to 50 years after the person was first exposed to the substance.
These risk factors account for a small percentage. Next to asbestos-related mesothelioma, the largest proportion of cases are idiopathic—they have no known cause. It has been reported by researchers that there is a background rate of the disease that occurs without exposure to any toxin known to cause it. Idiopathic mesothelioma has even occurred in children younger than the shortest known latency period for asbestos and other risk factors. It’s rare, but possible.


https://www.archivesofpathology.org/doi/pdf/10.5858/arpa.2017-0365-RA


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