A Guide to Mesothelioma

An Overview of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that ordinarily begins in the membrane lining of the lungs, but it can also be found in membrane linings around the heart or the abdominal cavity. These membranes are known as the mesothelium. Pleural mesothelioma in the membranous tissue lining the lungs is the most common form of the disease.

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Cause of Mesothelioma

Almost every person suffering from mesothelioma came into either direct or secondary contact with asbestos and inhaled it. Asbestos fibers are sharp and jagged, so the body has a difficult time ridding itself of them. They accumulate in the mesothelial cells of the lungs and abdomen where they can lay latent for 20-50 years after exposure. An onset of symptoms then leads to a mesothelioma diagnosis. Common mesothelioma symptoms follow:

Life Expectancy

A mesothelioma prognosis is highly unfavorable. Fewer than 10 percent of all patients live beyond five years from date of diagnosis. Most don't live beyond three years. A stage four mesothelioma diagnosis carries a life expectancy of one year or less.


Treatment for mesothelioma is usually multimodal in nature and consists of a number of cancer treatments involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery can be diagnostic, palliative to try to restore some quality of life or even potentially curative by removing all tumors. Chemotherapy involves very powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can also be very effecting in killing cancer cells by targeting them in very specific and isolated locations.

Mental health and Mesothelioma

Mental health can become an important element of a mesothelioma patient's prognosis. A mesothelioma diagnosis affects not only the patient, but it affects everybody close to them too. A support system that recognizes the critical need for emotional support enhances coping skills. Beyond a support system, there is therapy and medication for depression or anxiety.

Some mesothelioma patients outlive their life expectancy. Proper cancer care coupled with a positive perspective will provide confidence and comfort. Maintain awareness of mesothelioma. Almost all deaths attributable to the disease are fully preventable.

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