How Common is Mesothelioma? Uncovering the Facts

Greetings readers, and welcome to our in-depth look at mesothelioma – a rare but deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of this disease, and it can take decades for symptoms to appear.

In this article, we will explore the frequency of mesothelioma, the risk factors, and the various treatment options available. Our aim is to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of this debilitating disease to raise awareness and promote early detection.

Mesothelioma: The Basics

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the mesothelial cells, which form the protective lining of the internal organs. The disease is rare, with only around 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States.

Despite its rarity, mesothelioma is an aggressive and often fatal cancer. Its prognosis is generally poor, with an average survival rate of 12 to 21 months after diagnosis. This makes early detection and timely treatment essential for improving patient outcomes.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and manufacturing industries for its heat-resistant properties.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become trapped in the body’s tissues, causing inflammation and scarring. Over time, this can lead to genetic mutations and the development of cancerous cells.

Who is at Risk?

People who work in certain industries, such as construction, shipbuilding, and automobile manufacturing, are at the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Additionally, individuals who live or work in older buildings that contain asbestos-based materials may also be at risk.

However, asbestos exposure can also occur through secondary sources, such as laundering the clothes of someone who works in an at-risk industry, or through natural disasters that disturb asbestos-containing materials.

What are the Symptoms?

Type of Mesothelioma Most Common Symptoms
Pleural Mesothelioma Shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss
Pericardial Mesothelioma Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, fatigue, night sweats
Pleural Mesothelioma Shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss

The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease. In some cases, symptoms may not appear until several years after exposure to asbestos.

How Common is Mesothelioma?

As previously mentioned, mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer, accounting for less than 0.3% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States. However, the incidence rate of mesothelioma has been steadily increasing over the past few decades.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States in 2020, with an estimated 2,500 deaths from the disease. Men are more likely to develop mesothelioma than women, and most cases are diagnosed in individuals over the age of 65.

Mesothelioma by State

The incidence of mesothelioma varies by state, with some regions having a higher prevalence due to greater asbestos exposure risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the states with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths from 1999 to 2015 were:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • New York

Mesothelioma by Occupation

As previously noted, individuals who work in certain industries are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. According to the CDC, the occupations with the highest rates of mesothelioma deaths from 1999 to 2015 were:

  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Mechanics and repairers
  • Plumbers and pipefitters
  • Industrial workers

Mesothelioma by Age

Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in individuals over the age of 65, with an average age of diagnosis between 70 and 75 years old. However, mesothelioma has been diagnosed in individuals as young as 20 years old.

FAQs About Mesothelioma

1. Can mesothelioma be cured?

While there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, treatment options can help manage the disease and improve quality of life.

2. How long does it take for mesothelioma to develop?

Mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos.

3. Can mesothelioma be caused by non-asbestos factors?

The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, but other factors such as radiation exposure and certain viruses have been linked to the disease.

4. What is the most common type of mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for around 75% of all cases.

5. Is mesothelioma hereditary?

No, mesothelioma is not typically hereditary.

6. Can treatment for mesothelioma be covered by insurance?

Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of mesothelioma treatment, but it is always best to consult with your insurance provider to confirm coverage.

7. What should I do if I have been exposed to asbestos?

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, it is essential to speak with your doctor and discuss screening options for mesothelioma.

8. What tests are used to diagnose mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed through imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans, followed by a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.

9. What are the treatment options for mesothelioma?

Treatment options for mesothelioma may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

10. How can I reduce my risk of developing mesothelioma?

The best way to reduce your risk of mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. If you work in an at-risk industry or live in an older building, take precautions to limit your exposure to asbestos-containing materials.

11. How can I support someone with mesothelioma?

Supporting someone with mesothelioma can involve offering emotional support, helping with daily tasks, and researching treatment options and support resources.

12. What is the survival rate for mesothelioma?

The survival rate for mesothelioma varies depending on the stage of the disease and the individual’s overall health. However, the average survival rate is 12 to 21 months after diagnosis.

13. What resources are available for mesothelioma patients and their families?

There are many resources available for mesothelioma patients and their families, including support groups, financial aid programs, and legal assistance for those seeking compensation for asbestos exposure-related illnesses.


In conclusion, mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of cancer that affects thousands of people each year. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of this disease, and early detection is critical for improving patient outcomes.

By increasing awareness of mesothelioma and its risk factors, we can work towards reducing the incidence of this devastating disease. If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos or is experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, seek medical attention immediately.

Thank you for reading, and please share this article to spread awareness about mesothelioma and the importance of early detection.


The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.