Mesothelioma, or more exactly malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many our body's internal organs, the mesothelium. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos, which is a set of silicate minerals exploited commercially for their desirable physical properties. Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers (most invisible to the unaided human eye) are inhaled over a long time period. People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who have worked directly with the material.
Asbestos became popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century but nowadays the EU has banned all use of asbestos and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products.
Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking, but smoking greatly increases the risk of other asbestos-related cancers. Those exposed to asbestos often take advance of attorneys to collect damages for asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma. Compensation via asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in mesothelioma. Better start searching for a lawyer!
One interesting thing is that more than 1,000 tons of asbestos are thought to have been released into the air during the destruction of the WTC towers on 9/11. Inhalation of a mixture of asbestos and other toxicants is thought to be linked to the unusually high death rate of emergency service workers from cancer since the disaster. Many thousands more are now thought to be at risk of developing cancer due to this exposure.