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Malignant Mesothelioma
What is Mesothelioma?

Malignant Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer that is very rare. According to the American Cancer Society, in the U.S. only about 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year.

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. Individuals who have been exposed working with or being around products containing asbestos are most at risk. The cancer is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers which then become embedded in the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart.

Symptoms most often involve fluid around the lungs, chest or abdominal pain and persistent coughing.
Mesothelioma treatment often includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a carefully staged mixture of the three therapy options. While these therapies help to control tumor growth, a complete cure has not been discovered.


This form of cancer is caused by asbestos exposure. The development of mesothelioma occurs when an individual absorbs asbestos which then causes mutations to their DNA. A person’s genes are constructed of DNA. They regulate how cells grow, multiply and die. Changes in our genes can trigger cells to divide uncontrollably which may result in the development of cancer.


Malignant Mesothelioma

Development of Mesothelioma

  1. Airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed.
  2. Asbestos fibers become embedded in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.
  3. The lodged fibers physically harm the mesothelial cells causing damage and inflammation.
  4. As time progresses tumors begin to form on the damaged mesothelium, the tissue which surrounds the organs of the chest, abdominal cavity and testes.

Tumors can sometimes be noncancerous or benign. If the tumor is found to be cancerous a diagnosis is made of malignant mesothelioma or it is simply referred to as mesothelioma.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Usual mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Dry cough
  • Respiratory problems
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Dry cough
  • Low energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion)

Unfortunately, mesothelioma symptoms do not present until tumors have developed and spread. The Latency period, from time of exposure to a true diagnosis is 20-50- years.  Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma range in age from 60-70.

Individuals who have been exposed to asbestos and experience any of these symptoms should consult with a mesothelioma specialist. Early identification could improve one’s diagnosis and life span.

What is Mesothelioma?

Types of Malignant Mesothelioma

The different types of mesothelioma are identified by location of development.

The most common forms of mesothelioma are pleural and peritoneal. Pericardial mesothelioma only represents 1% of mesothelioma cases. Testicular mesothelioma accounts for less than 1% of cases. Symptoms, prognosis and therapy choices differ by type.

Pleural Mesothelioma

  • Most prevalent
  • Develops on the soft tissue lining which covers the lungs
  • Multimodal treatment approach is preferred

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

  • Accounts for less than 20% of cases
  • Forms on the soft tissue lining encompassing the abdomen
  • Best treated with surgery and heated chemotherapy

Pericardial Mesothelioma

  • Second rarest form, accounting for 1% of cases
  • Develops on the soft tissue lining surrounding the heart
  • Multimodal treatment approach is preferred

Testicular Mesothelioma

  • Rarest form, accounting for less than 1% of all cases
  • Forms on the lining of the testes
  • Best treated with surgery

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.

Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.

What is Mesothelioma?

Who Is Most at Risk for Mesothelioma


Between 1940-1980 asbestos use by the United States military was common. Military personnel from all branches were vulnerable to exposure. The U.S. Navy utilized the largest quantity of asbestos, putting naval veterans in greatest jeopardy.

 Occupational Exposure

Greater than 75 occupations have exposed workers to asbestos. Workers most at risk are firefighters, construction workers, auto mechanics, steel mill workers and textile workers.

Secondary Exposure

Asbestos fibers were inadvertently carried home by exposed workers which then caused secondary asbestos exposure to the occupants in the home such as women and children.


Women and younger individuals have a better prognosis than older men.

Individuals who are qualified to receive a multimodal treatment, which involves a combination of two or more standard-of-care therapies, have a better prognosis and life expectancy.

Individuals diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma have a greater probability of survival.

The particular mesothelioma cell type plays and important role in prognosis and life expectancy.

Mesothelioma Cells Types

The Three Types of Cells


These cells make up 50% of mesothelioma diagnosis and respond best to treatment, improving prognosis and life expectancy.


Sarcomatoid cells make up only 10% of diagnosis. These cells have the poorest treatment response which, in turn, correlates with a poorer prognosis and shorter life expectancy.


Biphasic cells are composed of both sarcomatoid and epithelioid cells. These cells make up 30-40% of diagnosis. Biphasic cells are less responsive to therapies. However, prognosis and life expectancy are contingent on the ratio of both types of cells.

Malignant Mesothelioma

Common Questions Regarding Prognosis

Life expectancy of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma?

Life expectancy following diagnosis is roughly one year.

What factors affect prognosis?

Prognosis is most affected by cell type and stage of the cancer. The individual’s exposure history, age, and gender may also influence prognosis.

How can individuals improve prognosis?

Staying healthy, maintaining a nutrient rich diet, incorporating a multimodal treatment approach and undergoing cancer treatments help to improve prognosis.

Common Questions Regarding Prognosis
What is Mesothelioma?

The Four Stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Staging demands a variety of diagnostic examinations to identify the tumor area, overall size, and whether it has spread beyond the immediate location. The four stages of pleural mesothelioma cancer vary marginally within each system, but they could be generalized as suggested below. Please click into the individual pages to get more information about each stage. So when the question, “What is Mesothelioma?” is asked, there are a few stages that it could be answered in, the following are the known stages of mesothelioma.


The cancer remains localized to the point of origin in stage 1. Not only is surgery most effective during this stage, but patients are more likely to receive a higher survival rate.  The average life expectancy is approximately 22.2 months for stage 1.





The cancer has begun to spread towards ports of the diaphragm, the lung itself, and nearby lymph nodes. Surgery is still optional as this spreading is not incredibly drastic. The average life expectancy is approximately 20 months for stage 2.


The cancer as progressed throughout one side of the chest, within the chest wall, esophagus, and additional lymph nodes. Although it is entering a more advanced stage, surgery may still be available. The average life expectancy is 17.9 months for stage 3.



The cancer has now spread into both sides of the chest. As a result of the extensive spreading, the blood, bone cells, and other organs are affected. To better control symptoms and potentially prolong survival patients typically undergo chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The average life expectancy is 14.9 months for stage 4.

Importance of Finding a Mesothelioma Specialist
What is Mesothelioma?

Importance of Finding a Mesothelioma Specialist

Mesothelioma represents 0.3 percent of all cancer diagnoses – making it extremely rare. In fact, it has never been encountered by many doctors and oncologists.

According to the Journal of General Internal Medicine which conducted a study in 2009, mesothelioma cancer care “…requires the technical knowledge and skills of specialty physicians such as medical oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists”.

Specialized mesothelioma doctors establish:

  • First type of treatment that is available to a patient
  • Goals of such treatment(s) and prognosis
  • Possible use of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy
  • Possible involvement within clinical trial(s)

It is extremely important to locate a qualified mesothelioma specialist as a patient’s prognosis is strongly impact by these factors.

Malignant Mesothelioma

Treatment Options

Although mesothelioma has no cure, the purpose of treatment(s) is to extend a patient’s life expectancy. However, not every patient may be eligible for such treatments.

The following are the most common treatments for mesothelioma patients to undergo:


Surgery offers mesothelioma patients with the greatest chance of survival. Surgery can be used for diagnosis, removal of tumors, and/or palliative care for pain reduction. Patients with high health and limited spread of cancer are good candidates.


Chemotherapy utilized powerful drugs in order to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. More than 70 percent of mesothelioma patients are treated with chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, which can be used at any stage, is generally used to ease pain patients experience from tumor growth. Local reoccurrence is also minimized when radiation therapy is combined with chemotherapy and surgery.


Immunotherapy, which is primarily used in clinical trials, is an experimental treatment. Its primary purpose is to boost the immune system in order to fight against the cancer.

Multimodal Therapy

Multimodal therapy is a combination of two or more therapies. This approach is suggested to improve survival rates, as shown by clinical trials.


Peritoneal mesothelioma patients are able to partake in HIPEC – a type of multimodal treatment. This process begins with surgery to remove as many tumors as possible, followed by a heated chemotherapy in attempt to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the abdominal cavity.

Palliative Treatments

Palliative treatments, which can be used for any mesothelioma patient, may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or HIPEC. The ultimate goal is to improve a patient’s quality of life and to reduce pains, rather than achieving curative care.

Clinical Trials and Emerging Treatments

Mesothelioma patients gain access to experimental therapies through clinical trials. Additionally, such trials aid in new treatment development by providing both medical and scientific information for researchers. Nonetheless, excellent medical care is provided to patient that undergo experimental clinical trials.

Alternative Treatments

Mesothelioma patients may benefit from herbal medicines, holistic healing, mind-body therapies, and additional complementary therapies.

Treatment Options
Lane A. Clack
What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma Lawsuits and Financial Assistance

Why Should Individuals File?

Unfortunately, despite knowledge of the deadly effect asbestos can have on health, many negligent companies not only failed to warn employees of the dangers of asbestos, but also continued to produce, distribute, and/or utilize the harmful mineral. Compensation of lost wages, medical expenses, and additional costs can potentially be retrieved by filing a lawsuit.

Who Can File a Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit can be filed by any individual that has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma lawyers file against companies that are responsible for their client’s asbestos exposure in order to seek rightful justice. Families that have lost a loved one to mesothelioma can also file for a wrongful death claim.

How Do I File a Lawsuit?

The decision of when to file for a lawsuit can be made with a mesothelioma attorney; such attorneys will be able to provide the best guidance throughout the process. These lawyers will review a client’s case and help so that they can receive the highest compensation possible. However, it is essential to remember that a limitation status can expire so time is of the essence.

Malignant Mesothelioma

Other Forms of Financial Assistance

VA Claims

Asbestos-related claims for Military veterans can be filed through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Medicare and Medicaid

Government aid for patients that have limited income and/or are older in age.

Worker’s Compensation

Individuals exposed to asbestos at work may be able to receive financial assistance.

Support for Mesothelioma Patients

There are many forms of support for mesothelioma patients, survivors and loved ones.

Grief Support

Support groups for grief and counseling sessions can give patients a sense of peace of mind. Additionally, such groups can also provide the necessary coping skills for individual(s) to grieve the loss of a loved one.

Medical Support

Patients are more likely to obtain an improved prognosis with the aid of a complete medical team. Such team includes a dietician, mesothelioma specialist, patient advocate, and others.

Mesothelioma Support Groups

Support groups for mesothelioma patients provide a safe space to share their experiences with patients and survivors.

Other Forms of Financial Assistance