You likely already know that asbestos dust causes cancer. Still, few people outside of those with a diagnosis of mesothelioma understand why that is. And while researchers have a very good knowledge of how asbestos causes mesothelioma, there is room to further develop our understanding of the underlying mechanisms.
Knowing these underlying mechanisms is important for several reasons. There is a myth that some types of asbestos do not cause cancer, or that you need to have extended contact with asbestos in order to develop mesothelioma. And a better understanding of mesothelioma can lead to better treatment.
New research further examines asbestos-cancer connection
A new study, published in the March edition of the journal Oncogene, reveals why asbestos is so deadly.
Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, become lodged in the lining of the lungs – called the mesothelium. These pointed fibers cause inflammation, which in turn increases the likelihood for cancer to develop. The tissues surrounding the fibers require repair, which subsequently lowers the body’s ability to fight off tumor growth.
The Swiss National Science Foundation funded the research.
Could help improve treatment
The researchers hope that identifying the underlying mechanisms regarding how asbestos fibers cause cancer may help improve treatment. For example, one treatment receiving significant attention is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a way to improve the body’s immune system, which is then better equipped to fight off tumor growth.
In addition, an early diagnosis of mesothelioma can lead to better patient outcomes. Being able to identify tissue inflammation could lead to earlier diagnosis of mesothelioma.
While the danger of asbestos hasn’t been in dispute, this new research does help improve the medical community’s knowledge of how mesothelioma develops. As research continues, there is hope that better treatments may become available.