What is Mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer you could be entitled to significant compensation from both the Asbestos Trust Funds and asbestos product manufactures.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Free Case Review

What is Mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer you could be entitled to significant compensation from both the Asbestos Trust Funds and Asbestos product manufactures.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Free Case Review

What is Mesothelioma:
A Guide To Understanding
The Disease

Cancer happens when cells in your body start to divide rapidly and grow out of control. So, what is mesothelioma? As is true with all other cancers, mesothelioma starts when the DNA of your cells experiences mutations, which are changes that lead to unchecked growth. When the cells grow out of control, it can create a tumor.


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that impacts the tissue lining most of your internal organs. There are different types of mesotheliomas, and it’s a difficult condition to treat, with many of the causes of this cancer stemming from exposure to certain substances, particularly in the workplace.

Key Facts and Statistics Related to Mesothelioma

It’s considered a rare cancer.

Almost all individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma have asbestos exposure.

There are around 3,000 new cases diagnosed every year in the U.S.

The average age of diagnosis is 72.

It was expected that cases would start declining 10 years ago but unfortunately this has not happened yet due to increased risk to the elderly and continued exposures.

Men are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, but the rate of women dying from it has also increased due to their use of talcum powder.

Rates of survival vary a lot, depending on the type, treatment, gender, and age.

No level of asbestos exposure is considered safe, but the risk of developing this form of cancer is highest in people with years of exposure.

What Is Mesothelioma?

When answering the question, What is mesothelioma, aside from being a cancer, it forms in thin tissues. These tissues are the mesothelium, thus the name. The most common type of this cancer occurs when cancer forms in the tissue that surrounds your lungs.

The tissue surrounding the lungs is pleura, so more specifically, you may hear it called pleural mesothelioma. The condition can also occur in the tissue surrounding the abdomen, the heart, or the testicles.

What Is Mesothelioma?

When answering the question, What is mesothelioma, aside from being a cancer, it forms in thin tissues. These tissues are the mesothelium, thus the name. The most common type of this cancer occurs when cancer forms in the tissue that surrounds your lungs.

The tissue surrounding the lungs is pleura, so more specifically, you may hear it called pleural mesothelioma. The condition can also occur in the tissue surrounding the abdomen, the heart, or the testicles.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Unfortunately, many people will experience no symptoms until mesothelioma advances and the tumor affects nearby organs and tissues. This is true with many types of cancer, and the symptoms also tend to vary based on the specific location of the tumor. Pleural mesothelioma symptoms most commonly include shortness of breath, a dry, persistent cough, and pain in the side of the chest or the lower back. There may also be problems with swallowing, or you might feel like you have something stuck in the back of your throat.


Additional symptoms can include facial or arm swelling or unintentional weight loss. An abdominal tumor can cause swelling and pain in the area, nausea and vomiting, constipation, or small intestine blockages. No matter the location, if you’re suffering from this form of cancer, you’ll likely experience generalized symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, fever, and loss of appetite.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

The steps to diagnose this particular form of cancer include:

In most cases, mesothelioma is diagnosed after a patient begins to experience fluid build up around the lungs (pleural effusion) or in the abdomen. This can cause the patient to have limited breathing or pain. Very often it is initially misdiagnosed as pneumonia.

A general physical exam where your medical provider will learn more about your medical and occupational history.

If mesothelioma is suspected, your doctor will probably do either an X-ray of your chest or a CT scan. This is a way to look for abnormalities. For example, a pleural effusion could be a buildup of fluid that’s between your lung and chest wall.

If your healthcare provider sees fluid in your imaging, they’ll drain it with a needle, and this will be an opportunity to exclude other causes for fluid buildup.

A biopsy will likely be done next, where a pathologist who will study a sample taken from the affected area. The pathologist will be able to determine if you have mesothelioma and what specific kind it is.

From there, if that’s the diagnosis, your doctor will probably do tests like a PET scan, which helps figure out the cancer stage. A PET scan shows if other areas are affected in your body.

Staging for mesothelioma, which indicates how advanced the disease is, is similar to other cancers. If it’s diagnosed as Stage I, it’s the least advanced. Stage IV is the most advanced, meaning it’s gone beyond its original location and spread to other body parts.

What Are the Risk Factors?

While researchers don’t know precisely the causes of mesothelioma, risk factors have been identified, with asbestos exposure being number one.

If someone inhaled the asbestos fibers, they could travel into their airways, irritating the lining of the lungs. The irritation creates inflammation and damage, which can cause cancer cells to form over time.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that’s both heat and fire-resistant, so it was used widely in insulation and fire-retardant materials through the 1970s. The use of asbestos has been banned for over thirty years, but there’s still a risk of exposure, especially if you work in certain occupations.

The longer you’re exposed to asbestos, the higher your mesothelioma risk. It’s even possible to have secondary exposure, referring to a scenario where you live with someone exposed, and they bring the fibers home with them.

Occupations that are considered high risk for asbestos exposure include: 

Aircraft and auto mechanics

Machine operators and machinists

Mineworkers

Construction workers and remodelers

Boiler workers

Firefighters

HVAC workers

People who work in shipyards

Oil refinery workers

Industrial workers

Teachers

Insulators

Navy personnel and other ship crews

Workers in textile mills

Additional Risk Factors

Other risk factors are age, genetics, and exposure to radiation therapy. If you were treated for a cancer like lymphoma, for example, and you received high doses of radiation to your chest, it could increase the risk of mesothelioma. Some patients diagnosed with cancer have a genetic mutation inherited from a parent that puts them at risk. The primary genetic defect seen is called BAP-1.

Treatment Options

The treatment plan a healthcare team might decide on depends on many factors, like individual health, the cancer’s location, and the stage. Options for treating mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. The cancer must be caught early enough for surgery to be an option. Even if the surgery doesn’t completely remove your cancer, it could reduce some symptoms that make daily life more challenging. For example, fluid buildup could be alleviated to help ease your breathing.

Chemotherapy can help shrink the cells and slow the growth of the cancer. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy have recently had a dramatic effect on the outcome and survival of patients with mesothelioma. It is believed this will be the most promising area of future treatment options. Although mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer, new treatment options are quickly becoming available.

Frequently Asked
Questions

Based on current estimates, the risk of developing mesothelioma is around 8-13% if you have heavy and prolonged exposure to asbestos. It can also develop in people with fairly limited exposure, although more rarely.

While it’s a scary diagnosis, 73-92% of patients live longer than a year for the most common types of this cancer. Five-year survival ranges from 12-65%.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California is the top state for mesothelioma cases. They’re also the highest regarding asbestos exposure and deaths related to the material.

Anyone who worked with or around asbestos is most at risk for mesothelioma.

If you’re exposed to asbestos one time, it’s very unlikely you’d develop mesothelioma, but it’s still possible. It’s repeated exposure that most raises the risk.

You’re unlikely to have any symptoms early on, and you probably won’t experience them until it’s progressed, so yes, you could have it and not know it.

There are mesothelioma lawsuits categorized as a type of product liability. The goal of these lawsuits is to help you recover compensation, monetarily, if companies were negligent and made products using asbestos. The compensation is a way to help you cover the costs of your treatment and other expenses.

Final Thoughts on Mesothelioma

So, what is mesothelioma? It’s a potentially aggressive cancer that often occurs because of asbestos exposure. It’s not as common as it once was because asbestos isn’t used anymore, but many people are still diagnosed. You should speak to your healthcare provider about the necessary diagnostic tests if you have mesothelioma.

If you’ve already been diagnosed or you have a loved one who has passed away from the disease, you may be able to receive compensation from asbestos manufacturers. If you’d like to learn more about your legal options, please reach out today for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer or client specialist.

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