What causes mesothelioma?

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Being exposed to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma. Research into other causes is also taking place.

Asbestos is a substance used mainly in insulation. It’s now illegal to use asbestos, but there may still be asbestos in older buildings. Asbestos shouldn’t do any harm unless it releases its fibres, which can happen if it’s broken or damaged. 

Asbestos fibres can’t be broken down if they’re breathed in. They stay in your lungs and can cause mesothelioma, usually many years (10 to 60 years) after you’re exposed to the asbestos. 

Not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will develop mesothelioma, but if you have, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP.

Can I be screened for mesothelioma?

Testing for mesothelioma when you have no symptoms is called screening. There is no national screening programme for mesothelioma. If you are worried about your risk of mesothelioma, talk to your family doctor.

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