The four main diseases caused by asbestos are mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and plural plaque. In this video, an expert explains the dangers of contact with asbestos, who is most at risk of exposure and what precautions to take.

Media last reviewed: 24/08/2012

Next review due: 24/08/2014

What is cancer?

The body is made up of millions of different types of cells. Cancer happens when some of the cells multiply in an abnormal way. When cancer affects organs and solid tissues, it causes a growth called a tumour to form. Cancer can occur in any part of the body where the cells multiply abnormally.

Asbestos and lung cancer

Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer. Ian Wright is supporting a campaign to raise awareness among tradesmen

Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the membrane (lining) that covers the outer surface of most of our body organs.

For example, mesothelioma can develop in the lining covering the lungs.

About 2,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

What is the cause?

Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma will have been exposed to this mineral at some point in their life.

Mesothelioma can develop many years (usually 40-60 years) after the initial exposure to asbestos.


The outlook for mesothelioma is poor, because it is usually diagnosed when it is at an advanced stage. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma will die within three years of being diagnosed. Every year in the UK there are around 1,800 deaths from the condition.

The number of deaths from mesothelioma is expected to rise in the years ahead due to the long gap between exposure to asbestos and the onset of the cancer. Experts believe that by 2050, 90,000 people in the UK will have died as a result of mesothelioma.

Want to know more?

Health A-Z: asbestosis

Health A-Z: cancer

Cancer Research UK: mesothelioma

Macmillan: mesothelioma

Page last reviewed: 22/03/2012

Next review due: 22/03/2014


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

User748068 said on 12 February 2013

Nice post . thank you for sharing.
you better read this for the whole detail

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richardeortiz said on 28 November 2011


You provided a great information.Thanks for the info.Can you tell me what are the steps to take for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Treatment.



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