What is Mesothelioma? Understanding the Deadly Cancer


Have you heard of mesothelioma? If not, you’re not alone. This rare and aggressive cancer affects the lining of various organs, most commonly the lungs. But it’s important to understand what mesothelioma is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into this deadly disease, so you can have a better understanding of what mesothelioma is and how it affects those diagnosed with it.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that forms in the thin layer of tissue that covers the internal organs of the body, known as the mesothelium. The mesothelium is made up of two layers: the outer layer, which surrounds and protects the organs, and the inner layer, which produces a fluid that helps the organs move smoothly.

When mesothelioma develops, it typically affects the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. However, it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) or the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).

Causes of Mesothelioma

The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and manufacturing throughout most of the 20th century. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the lining of organs, leading to cellular damage and eventually cancerous growth.

In many cases, mesothelioma doesn’t develop until several decades after exposure to asbestos. As a result, the disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, which can make treatment more difficult.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on the location of the cancer, but common symptoms include:

Location of Cancer Common Symptoms
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs) Chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen) Abdominal swelling, pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss
Pericardial Mesothelioma (Heart) Chest pain, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, fatigue, cough

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be challenging since the symptoms are often similar to those of other respiratory or abdominal conditions. In addition to a medical history and physical exam, doctors may use imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, as well as biopsy samples, to confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment for Mesothelioma

The treatment options for mesothelioma vary depending on the stage of the cancer and the location of the tumors. Common treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove tumors and affected organs
  • Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy to shrink tumors and reduce pain
  • Immunotherapy to boost the body’s immune response to cancer cells

Prognosis for Mesothelioma

The prognosis for mesothelioma is generally poor, with a five-year survival rate of less than 10%. However, early detection and aggressive treatment can improve survival rates and quality of life for those diagnosed with this disease.

FAQs About Mesothelioma

Q: How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

A: Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed through imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, as well as biopsy samples.

Q: What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?

A: The primary risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Other risk factors include age, gender, and genetics.

Q: Can mesothelioma be cured?

A: While there is no cure for mesothelioma, treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Q: Is mesothelioma hereditary?

A: While mesothelioma is not typically considered a hereditary disease, some genetic mutations may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma.

Q: How long does it take for mesothelioma to develop?

A: Mesothelioma can take several decades to develop after exposure to asbestos, with an average latency period of 20-50 years.

Q: Can mesothelioma be prevented?

A: The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. If you work in an industry that involves asbestos, be sure to take proper safety precautions and wear protective gear.

Q: What should I do if I’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma?

A: If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to seek treatment from a medical professional who specializes in this type of cancer. You should also consider reaching out to a support group or mesothelioma advocacy organization for additional resources and support.


As you can see, mesothelioma is a complex and deadly disease that requires specialized treatment and care. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to seek out expert medical care and support. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection and aggressive treatment can help improve quality of life and extend survival.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take action today to protect yourself and your loved ones from the devastating effects of mesothelioma.

Closing Disclaimer

The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your health or a potential medical condition, please consult a healthcare provider.