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Mesothelioma Summary




Mesothelioma is a deadly, “sneaky” cancer that doesn’t generally show its symptoms for many years after it begins. For some people, the diagnosis of mesothelioma is a shock that prompts a search through their past, going back decades to determine the source of the asbestos that initiated the mesothelioma process.

Asbestos Exposure Leads to Mesothelioma

For other individuals, their history of asbestos work is easily identified as the culprit underlying this disease, the onset of which can take up to 50 years after the causative asbestos exposure. Many people who worked in asbestos mines or processing plants or with asbestos-containing products are by now aware of the high rate of mesothelioma in their professions, often having heard about former co-workers diagnosed with this cancer.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is not easily diagnosed and confirmed, however. Oftentimes an individual is mistakenly diagnosed with another type of cancer or respiratory disease or other malady before the mesothelioma is identified. In addition, primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals are not familiar with mesothelioma and thus miss or misinterpret the signs and symptoms, which may include (dependent on the location of the cancer):


  • A mass in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain and/or swelling
  • Ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Bowel problems
  • Chest wall pain or pain under the rib cage
  • Coughing up bloody sputum
  • Fatigue, anemia
  • Hoarseness, wheezing, or cough
  • Pleural effusion (fluid surrounding the lung)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

The mesothelioma may attack the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity), the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), or the pericardium (a tissue sac surrounding the heart).


The Prognosis for Mesothelioma Patients

In nearly every case, mesothelioma is malignant (active, growing), not benign. The prognosis for a given mesothelioma patient depends on several factors in his or her unique circumstances:


  • the patient's age
  • his or her health, especially lung and heart health
  • the size of the mesothelioma tumor
  • its stage
  • the type of mesothelioma cells
  • whether the cancer is new or a recurrence
  • the presence and amount of fluid in the chest and/or abdomen


Treatment for Mesothelioma

There are three main categories of treatment for mesothelioma: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Combinations of two or more of these are also frequently used. For example, surgery may be performed to excise all possible malignant tissue, then chemotherapy or radiation is used to kill off any cancer cells that remain. Such treatment after surgery is commonly referred to as adjuvant therapy.


New mesothelioma cancer treatments are under investigation, including photodynamic therapy and biologic therapy.


More Information about Mesothelioma

There is much more to learn about mesothelioma, including the legal rights of individuals and families impacted by this disease. Contact a mesothelioma lawyer in your vicinity today to get the information you need.





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