What Is Mesothelioma Cancer?
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, incurable, asbestos-related cancer that usually affects the lining of the lungs. This cancer is known as pleural mesothelioma. But mesothelioma tumors can also form on the linings of the abdomen, heart and testes.
Key Facts about Mesothelioma
- More than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed yearly in the United States.
- Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 75% of cases.
- Average age of mesothelioma patient is 69.
- Men represent the majority of mesothelioma diagnoses.
- Average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 to 21 months.
Symptoms of mesothelioma appear when tumors spread, grow and press against the chest wall and the abdominal cavity. Chest pain and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms.
Common Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Fever or night sweats
- Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
- Weakness in the muscles
How Mesothelioma Develops
A person inhales or swallows microscopic airborne asbestos fibers.
The asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
Embedded fibers damage mesothelial cells and cause inflammation.
Over time, tumors form on the damaged mesothelium, leading to mesothelioma.
People Most at Risk of Developing Mesothelioma
People most at risk of developing mesothelioma handled asbestos for a prolonged period of time or were exposed to large amounts of asbestos as part of their career.
Secondhand exposure is also common, especially among the spouses and children of people who worked with asbestos.
Firefighters, construction workers, power plant workers, shipyard workers and others are among these types of workers.
U.S. Navy veterans are most at risk. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard veterans also face health risks.
Spouses, children and others who lived with a person who was regularly exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk.
Finding Support After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Support Groups for Mesothelioma Survivors
Mesothelioma survivors, caregivers and family members often need a place where they can share their ongoing struggles and amazing accomplishments. We offer a support group, hosted by a licensed mental health counselor, that offers a safe place for all mesothelioma survivors.
You and your loved ones can advocate for others who are going through the same cancer journey. Getting involved in the move to ban asbestos and raise mesothelioma awareness can have long-lasting and positive effects.Read More About Support
Arm Yourself with Information
Request a comprehensive mesothelioma guide to gain a deeper understanding of the cancer and how you can help your loved one during this difficult time. We can provide you with a free must-read book that answers frequently asked questions about mesothelioma.
Common Questions About Mesothelioma
- Is mesothelioma a cancer?
Mesothelioma is a type of asbestos cancer that develops in the tissue that lines the lungs, chest cavity and abdomen. Asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer and the formation of tumors within the lungs. Characteristics of mesothelioma and lung cancer include rapid, uncontrolled cellular growth leading to tumors that impair the function of the lungs and other vital organs.
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
The most common mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, dry cough, wheezing and fatigue. Advanced symptoms may include fever, night sweats, muscle weakness and certain respiratory complications.
- How is mesothelioma treated?
Mesothelioma is treated using chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and multimodal therapy, which is a combination of two or more of these treatments. Clinical research trials offer experimental therapies such as immunotherapy, gene therapy and phototherapy.
- How long do mesothelioma patients live?
The average mesothelioma life expectancy is about one year. Patients who are diagnosed early and elect treatment may live for several years. The five-year survival rate is around 10%.
- What are my options for compensation if I have been diagnosed with mesothelioma?
You may be eligible to seek compensation for mesothelioma from asbestos trust funds, lawsuits or VA claims. Speaking with a mesothelioma lawyer is the best way to learn about the legal options you may have if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
- Could testing positive for COVID-19 affect my mesothelioma diagnosis?
Testing positive for COVID-19 may delay an accurate diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. Similar to mesothelioma, COVID-19 symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, fever and general weakness. Respiratory injury as a result of the virus may mask evidence of mesothelioma, leading to a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis of asbestos-related disease.
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