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My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family.LashawnMesothelioma patient’s daughter
Landau, D. (2024, February 20). Mesothelioma. Asbestos.com. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/
Landau, Daniel. "Mesothelioma." Asbestos.com, 20 Feb 2024, https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/.
Landau, Daniel. "Mesothelioma." Asbestos.com. Last modified February 20, 2024. https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer. It develops in the thin protective lining (mesothelium) around the lungs, abdomen, heart or testes. As this rare cancer progresses, mesothelial tumors can spread or metastasize to the lining of other organs and lymph nodes.
Doctors classify mesothelioma based on where it forms on the mesothelium throughout the body. Symptoms, treatment and prognosis depend on where the cancer develops.
Tumor location determines the four types of mesothelioma:
The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural. It forms in the pleura, the protective lining around the outside of the lungs.
The second-most common type is peritoneal, which forms in the abdominal lining. It has a much higher survival rate, and surgery is typically more successful than with pleural mesothelioma.
The pericardial type affects about 1% of patients. Treatment options are much more limited. The median survival is 2 to 6 months.
The rarest type is testicular mesothelioma. Treatment options are much more limited, but about one-third of patients live for at least 10 years.
Work sites, such as factories and construction areas, are the most common sources of asbestos exposure. Historically, companies used asbestos in older buildings because of its low cost, resiliency, and resistance to heat and electricity. Asbestos is still present in many older building materials and consumer products.
Military veterans are also at risk of developing mesothelioma because asbestos was used extensively on Navy ships, military bases, barracks and other military locations and machinery.
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Common symptoms of mesothelioma are dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. The location of cancer determines which symptoms develop and how severe they can become.
Respiratory symptoms of pleural mesothelioma primarily affect the lungs and chest cavity. These can include a painful and dry cough, wheezing and chest pain. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma develop in and around the abdomen and include abdominal swelling, nausea, distension and pain.
Typical symptoms of asbestos-related disease don’t appear until decades after the initial exposure. 20 or even 60 years later down the line.
Pericardial mesothelioma may cause unique symptoms such as heart palpitations and murmurs. Symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include testicular swelling and pain.
Fatigue, weight loss and fever commonly occur in other cancers. Mesothelioma misdiagnosis is frequent because its symptoms can resemble other cancers and illnesses.
Diagnosed in 2017, pleural mesothelioma survivor Daniel McCarthy stays remarkably active at 82. After surviving aggressive surgery performed by specialist Dr. Abraham Lebenthal at the Boston VA Hospital, McCarthy underwent chemotherapy and radiation, which slowed him but didn’t stop his push to stay engaged. Today, he walks daily, reads considerably and writes about his adventures.
Talk to your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and are experiencing these symptoms. Early diagnosis of any disease often leads to a better prognosis and longer life expectancy.
Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Repeated exposure to asbestos-contaminated products, such as talc and older construction materials, increases the risk of developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos fibers get stuck in tissues that line and protect vital organs. Over decades, the fibers cause irritation and DNA damage. This damage turns normal cells into cancer cells, which develop into mesothelioma tumors. An average of 20 to 60 years passes between the first asbestos exposure and the development of symptoms, which is called the mesothelioma latency period.
Patients inhale or ingest asbestos, which causes chronic inflammation in the mesothelium. This can lead to genetic changes where cell DNA changes into a mesothelioma cancer cell.
The number of people in the U.S. exposed to asbestos The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has helped since 2017.
Occupational asbestos exposure is the No. 1 cause of mesothelioma. Construction workers, industrial workers, firefighters, military veterans and those in similar occupations may have been exposed to asbestos.
If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos long ago, monitoring for signs of disease with X-rays and other tests can help catch cancer early. Tell your doctor about your exposure and ask how frequently you should be tested.
A biopsy is necessary to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis. If mesothelioma cancer is suspected, doctors will recommend taking a tissue sample, also known as a biopsy. Doctors use this tissue sample to look for the presence of specific malignant mesothelioma cells.
Doctors use several other tests to diagnose mesothelioma. Blood tests may be used, but they cannot detect mesothelioma alone. Most people initially undergo a chest X-ray.
If abnormal growth or fluid around the lung is detected, doctors recommend imaging scans, such as CT, MRI or PET.
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, your doctor will review your pathology report to determine the cancer’s cell type. The three primary types of mesothelioma cells respond differently to treatment, and prognosis varies for each cell type.
Determining the cancer stage is important because it helps doctors make treatment plans and predict patient prognoses. The four stages of mesothelioma range from stage 1 (early-stage) to stage 4 (late-stage).
The stages of mesothelioma advance as tumors grow and spread.
The cancer is localized. Surgery is most effective at this stage, and the survival rate is higher.
Tumors grow and spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Tumors spread to nearby tissues and organs.
Tumors spread to distant organs.
These stages are based on tumor size and location. Each type of mesothelioma grows and spreads uniquely depending on where the tumors originated.
Median life expectancy for pleural mesothelioma ranges from 14.9 months to 22.2 months, depending on the stage. Treatments your doctor recommends are primarily based on the cancer’s stage, cell type and your overall health.
The standard treatment for mesothelioma may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. Doctors develop individualized treatment plans based on cancer location, cell type and stage.
Percentage of asbestos-related cancer patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.
People diagnosed in the early stages of mesothelioma benefit most from multimodal therapy using surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgical and palliative treatment options vary by cancer location. The sarcomatoid cell type limits treatment options, while the epithelial cell type responds best to all forms of treatment.
“Supportive care medicine is a new specialized branch of medicine that reduces pain, increases appetite and boosts morale,” said Dr. Jacques Fontaine, director of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Every mesothelioma patient should ask to be seen by this type of medical specialist, in addition to a thoracic surgeon and medical oncologist.”
Some patients may be eligible for mesothelioma clinical trials that test newer therapies. Though not every mesothelioma treatment is suitable for each patient, most patients benefit from palliative care to help manage symptoms of mesothelioma.
Eating the right diet throughout mesothelioma treatment can ease your symptoms.
Finding a mesothelioma specialist at a top mesothelioma treatment center is the best way to benefit from the latest therapies and improve a mesothelioma prognosis. Mesothelioma specialists understand more about the disease and its treatment than general oncologists.
Top mesothelioma doctors have years of experience developing personalized treatment plans for patients. They can access the latest treatments and medical technology at renowned cancer centers and work on multidisciplinary teams to provide a comprehensive mesothelioma treatment plan. Our Patient Advocates help people get appointments with these experts throughout the U.S.
“Patients are surprised that we can schedule and register them with a specialist for a second opinion,” said Danielle DiPietro, a Patient Advocate with The Mesothelioma Center.
Learn about the current state of mesothelioma, soaring treatment costs, the future of cancer treatment and other engaging topics from our exclusive featured stories.
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor, Kasie Coleman said “not many doctors have knowledge treating mesothelioma. Everyone should get a second opinion. If not for a second opinion, I wouldn’t have survived.”
Although most doctors do not have experience diagnosing or treating mesothelioma, you can find mesothelioma specialists across the U.S.
Life expectancy for people with mesothelioma is about 12 months with treatment, which is why the prognosis is generally poor for most patients. About 12% of people with pleural mesothelioma and 65% with peritoneal mesothelioma live for five years or longer.
The most important thing I try to convey to patients is the importance of optimism. While mesothelioma is a very ugly disease, we focus on the things that give us a better chance for them.
While you can’t change your age or cancer stage, you can decide to get treatment and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Mesothelioma patients who make these types of positive changes may also experience remission, a period of having no signs or symptoms of cancer.
The impact of a rare cancer diagnosis such as mesothelioma can feel like too much to handle. Worrying and feeling confused about how to move forward is expected.
Focus on getting excellent treatment and know there are steps you and your loved ones can take to empower your family with knowledge, resources and hope.
Mesothelioma is not a form of lung cancer. While both are types of cancer, mesothelioma grows on the pleura, which is the lining that covers the lungs, diaphragm and chest cavity. Lung cancer develops within the lung space.
Mesothelioma is not curable. However, researchers continue investigating new therapy options in clinical trials. Some patients live several years beyond the average life expectancy. Recent treatment advancements, such as immunotherapy, provide patients hope for an eventual cure.
While mesothelioma is fatal in most people, many outlive their initial life expectancy. A small number of people have survived for more than a decade after diagnosis. Detecting mesothelioma and receiving treatment from a mesothelioma specialist are the best ways to extend life expectancy.
Friends and family members can provide vital support to loved ones diagnosed with mesothelioma. They can help with everyday tasks, such as doing housework, providing transportation to appointments or preparing meals. They might help schedule appointments, pay bills and explore legal options. Loved ones also provide crucial emotional support.
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