- Lung Cancer Slideshow
- Lung Cancer Quiz
- Lung Cancer Myths and Facts
- Patient Comments: Mesothelioma - Signs and Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Mesothelioma - Asbestos Exposure
- Patient Comments: Mesothelioma - Treatment
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
- Mesothelioma facts
- What is mesothelioma?
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
- What causes mesothelioma?
- How much asbestos exposure does it take to get mesothelioma?
- How long does it take after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to show up?
- How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
- What is the prognosis for mesothelioma?
- What is the treatment for mesothelioma?
- Is there any promising research or are there promising drugs for mesothelioma?
- What other kinds of information is available for people with mesothelioma?
Quick GuideLung Cancer Symptoms, Stages, Treatments
- Mesothelioma is a cancer that arises from the cells lining the chest or abdominal cavities.
- Mesothelioma typically results from exposure to asbestos.
- When mesothelioma affects the chest, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope.
- When mesothelioma affects the abdomen, the doctor may look inside the abdomen with a special tool called a peritoneoscope.
- Mesothelioma is diagnosed by a biopsy.
- The outlook for patients with mesothelioma depends on how early the disease is detected and how aggressively it is treated.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer (malignancy) that most frequently arises from the cells lining the sacs of the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum). Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, often presenting with symptoms in the chest area. Peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common. This can affect the organs in the abdomen, and its symptoms are related to this area of the body, that is, abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting, and bowel obstruction. The rarest form of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma, which involves the sac surrounding the heart.
There are two major cell types of mesothelioma, epithelial and sarcomatoid. Sometimes both of these cell types can be present. The sarcomatoid type is rarer and occurs in only about 15% of cases; it portends a poorer prognosis. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can originate from benign, non-malignant cells. This so-called benign mesothelioma can be cured surgically.