What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma occurs mainly in men over the age of 50 and is frequently associated with prior environmental or occupational exposure to asbestos. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare tumor that attacks the pleura, the lining membrane of the lung. It can be diagnosed only by biopsy. Treatment often requires major surgery on the pleura (the lining membrane of the lung) and the lung and may involve post-surgical chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Penn Medicine
Mesothelioma is a rare type of malignancy that affects the lining (mesothelium) around the organs in the chest and abdomen. These cells protect organs by making a special fluid that lubricates the surfaces, allowing the lungs and other organs to move during breathing.

The mesothelium has different names in different parts of the body:
  • In the chest, it is called the pleura.
  • In the belly, it is called the peritoneum.
  • In the space around the heart, it is called the pericardium.
There are several different subtypes of mesothelioma, including epithelioid, sarcomatoid, biphasic and desmoplastic. Epithelioid is the most common, comprising 70% to 80% of cases. Mesothelioma is most often attributed to exposure to airborne asbestos particles and occurs in both men and women. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals used as a fire retardant but generally is no longer used in insulation or brake materials. The latency period between exposure and the development of mesothelioma can be as much as 40 to 50 years.

Continue Learning about Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing malignant mesothelioma (pronounced MEH-zoh-THEE-lee-OH-muh), a cancer found in the lining of our abdomen and chest.Although scientists dont know the exact cause of mesotheliom...

a, they believe that dust inhaled from asbestos irritates the protective lining of several organs called mesothelium. It may take up to 40 years after exposure for the cancer to even form. Malignant mesothelioma may cause fluid to build up around the lungs or abdomen, resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath and pain under your rib cage. A rare disease, you have a 1 in 770 chance of developing this cancer in your lifetime.

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