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Mesothelioma can affect younger people, too

Mesothelioma, the relatively rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, generally takes decades to develop. Because a large portion of mesothelioma cases stem from workplace exposure, including navy veterans and shipyard workers, most of us imagine mesothelioma victims as people aged 60 and above.

Yet asbestos exposure can occur for the very young. And that exposure can lead to mesothelioma.

Yes, those 30 and younger can get mesothelioma

A 30 year-old was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma after being injured in a fall while working as a roofer. In getting treated after the fall, doctors discovered one of his lungs was 50 percent collapsed. Eventually, doctors diagnosed him with mesothelioma.

While extremely rare, the man is not the only person to have been diagnosed with mesothelioma at 30 or younger. Last year, a 23 year-old woman in the UK underwent successful surgery to remove cancerous tumors.

In more tragic cases, mesothelioma has claimed the lives of some people as young as 24.

Mesothelioma doesn't discriminate

As is often the case, neither patient above could definitively account for where or when they were exposed to asbestos dust. However, even indirect asbestos dust exposure causes mesothelioma. Indirect exposure can come from a parent's work clothes, for example.

The above cases are stark reminders that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. You do not have to have worked around asbestos for years in order to be at increased risk.

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