How Did Steve McQueen Get Pleural Mesothelioma?

The Tragic Story of the King of Cool

Greetings, dear readers. Today, we will delve into the heartbreaking story of Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, and his battle with pleural mesothelioma. Steve McQueen was a legendary American actor and filmmaker, known for his charisma, talent, and rugged good looks. However, behind the scenes, Steve fought a silent but deadly enemy: mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and other organs.

Steve McQueen’s story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of asbestos, a mineral widely used in industrial and construction applications, and its devastating impact on human health. In this article, we will explore Steve’s life and career, his connection to asbestos exposure, and how he battled mesothelioma until his untimely death at the age of 50. We hope that this article will raise awareness about mesothelioma and inspire readers to take action to prevent and treat this deadly disease.

Who Was Steve McQueen?

Steve McQueen was born on March 24, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana. He grew up in a troubled home, with an absent father and a mother who was an alcoholic. Steve was expelled from school at the age of 14 and spent his teenage years in reform schools and juvenile detention centers. However, he discovered his love for acting while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and pursued a career in Hollywood.

Steve McQueen became one of the biggest movie stars of the 1960s and 1970s, thanks to his iconic roles in films such as “The Great Escape,” “Bullitt,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and “The Magnificent Seven.” He was known for his macho image, his love of fast cars and motorcycles, and his rebellious attitude. Steve was also a skilled race car driver, and he competed in many motorsports events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was widely used in building materials, insulation, textiles, and other industrial applications. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can be inhaled or ingested, where they lodge in the tissue and cause inflammation and scarring over time. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma, which has a long latency period and often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the body.

How Did Steve McQueen Get Pleural Mesothelioma?

Steve McQueen was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 1979, after experiencing shortness of breath and persistent coughing. He had been a heavy smoker for many years, but his doctors suspected that his cancer was also related to his exposure to asbestos during his Navy service and movie career. Steve had worked on many construction sites and film sets where asbestos was present, and he often wore protective gear that was not sufficient to prevent inhalation of asbestos fibers. Steve underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments to fight his cancer, but his condition worsened over time.

The Timeline of Steve McQueen’s Mesothelioma

Date Event
1979 Steve McQueen is diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and undergoes surgery to remove part of his right lung
1980 Steve travels to Mexico to seek alternative treatments for his cancer, including coffee enemas and laetrile, a controversial drug made from apricot pits
1981 Steve’s cancer spreads to his liver and abdominal cavity, and he undergoes more surgeries and experimental treatments in the U.S. and Mexico
1982 Steve McQueen dies on November 7, 1980, at the age of 50, due to complications from his mesothelioma and surgery

What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can have vague and nonspecific symptoms in its early stages, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Some of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

🔸 Shortness of breath
🔸 Chest pain
🔸 Persistent cough
🔸 Fatigue
🔸 Weight loss
🔸 Night sweats
🔸 Fever
🔸 Swelling and pain in the abdomen
🔸 Nausea and vomiting
🔸 Constipation or diarrhea

How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

Mesothelioma is a challenging cancer to treat, due to its aggressive nature and resistance to standard therapies. However, there are several treatment options available that can help manage mesothelioma and improve quality of life. Some of the most common treatments for mesothelioma include:

🔸 Surgery to remove tumors and affected tissue
🔸 Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells
🔸 Chemotherapy to shrink tumors and prevent cancer from spreading
🔸 Immunotherapy to boost the immune system to fight cancer
🔸 Clinical trials of new drugs and therapies
🔸 Palliative care to relieve pain and other symptoms of mesothelioma

FAQs About Steve McQueen and Mesothelioma

1. Did Steve McQueen die from mesothelioma?

Yes, Steve McQueen died from pleural mesothelioma on November 7, 1980, at the age of 50.

2. Was Steve McQueen exposed to asbestos?

Yes, Steve McQueen was exposed to asbestos during his Navy service and movie career, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, when asbestos use was widespread.

3. What were Steve McQueen’s symptoms of mesothelioma?

Steve McQueen’s symptoms of mesothelioma included shortness of breath, persistent coughing, chest pain, and fatigue.

4. What treatments did Steve McQueen undergo for his mesothelioma?

Steve McQueen underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and experimental treatments, including coffee enemas and laetrile, to fight his mesothelioma.

5. How long did Steve McQueen live after his mesothelioma diagnosis?

Steve McQueen lived for two years after his mesothelioma diagnosis, during which he underwent multiple surgeries and treatments.

6. Did Steve McQueen know about the risks of asbestos exposure?

It is unclear whether Steve McQueen was aware of the risks of asbestos exposure during his lifetime, as awareness of asbestos-related diseases was limited at the time.

7. How can I prevent mesothelioma?

You can prevent mesothelioma by avoiding exposure to asbestos, especially in the workplace or during home renovations. If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos, you should seek medical attention and inform your doctor of your history.


In conclusion, Steve McQueen’s story is a tragic reminder of the dangers of asbestos and mesothelioma. His life and career were cut short by a disease that could have been prevented if proper precautions had been taken. However, Steve’s legacy lives on through his films and his advocacy for mesothelioma research and awareness. We hope that this article has shed light on Steve’s battle with mesothelioma and inspired readers to take action to prevent and treat this deadly disease. Let us honor Steve McQueen’s memory by raising awareness about mesothelioma and working towards a world free from asbestos.


Thank you for reading this article about how did Steve McQueen get pleural mesothelioma? We hope that you have found it informative and engaging. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. Remember, mesothelioma is a serious and deadly disease, but there is hope for those who are affected by it. By raising awareness and supporting mesothelioma research, we can make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering. Let us work together to prevent and cure mesothelioma, and honor the memory of Steve McQueen and other mesothelioma victims.