Common Symptoms Include:
- Dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
- Fever or night sweats
- Weakness in the muscles
Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to less serious conditions. Finding a mesothelioma doctor is crucial to guaranteeing an accurate diagnosis and ensuring the best chance of survival.Get Help Finding a Mesothelioma Doctor
A biopsy is the only test that can confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Imaging tests, such as CT scans, PET scans and X-rays, are also used with the biopsy to identify the location of tumors and evaluate their progression and growth, which is known as stage of the cancer.
If tumors are cancerous, doctors will diagnose this as malignant mesothelioma. They may simply call it mesothelioma. Doctors may discover that tumors are noncancerous. In that case, they will diagnose it as benign mesothelioma.
An early mesothelioma cancer diagnosis may increase a patient’s eligibility and access to all treatment options.
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma.
How Mesothelioma Develops
- A person inhales or swallows airborne asbestos fibers.
- The asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
- The embedded fibers damage the mesothelial cells and cause inflammation.
- Over time, tumors begin to form on the damaged mesothelium, which is the lining of the abdomen, lung, heart and testes.
Who Is at Risk of Mesothelioma?
- Blue-collar Workers
- Firefighters, construction workers, power plant workers, shipyard workers and others in blue-collar occupations
- Primarily military personnel who served in the U.S. Navy, but also those who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard
- Family Members
- Spouses, children and others who had secondhand exposure from living with a person who was regularly exposed to asbestos
You may be eligible for compensation. Connect with a top mesothelioma attorney today to see if you qualify.Find an Attorney
The stages of mesothelioma, which range from 1 to 4, are based on tumor size and location.
The cancer is localized. Surgery is most effective at this stage. Survival rate is higher. Median life expectancy at stage 1 is 22.2 months.
Tumors have started to spread from the original location into adjacent structures. Surgery is still an option. Median life expectancy at stage 2 is 20 months.
Cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage with spread into the regional lymph nodes. Surgery may still be an option. Median life expectancy at stage 3 is 17.9 months.
Cancer has spread extensively in the area where it developed. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy control symptoms and prolong survival. Median life expectancy at stage 4 is 14.9 months or less.
There are four types of mesothelioma cancer based on where it develops in the body: Pleural, pericardial, peritoneal and testicular mesothelioma.
Additionally, there are three types of cells found in mesothelioma tumors: Epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic. Prognosis, symptoms and treatment options vary based on both the location and cell type.
- 75% of cases
- Forms on soft tissue covering the lungs
- Best treated with a multimodal approach
- Less than 20% of cases
- Forms on the outer lining of the abdomen
- Treated by surgery and chemotherapy
- 1% of cases
- Forms on soft tissue around the heart
- Best treated with a multimodal approach
- Less than 1% of cases
- Develops on the lining of the testes
- Responds best to surgery
Doctors can diagnose mesothelioma further by identifying the cell type of the tumors. Each cell type reacts differently to treatment. Some are more common and respond well to treatments, while others are rarer and more resistant to therapies.
- Most responsive to treatment
- Accounts for 70% of mesothelioma diagnoses
- Least responsive to treatment
- Poorer prognosis and shorter life expectancy
- About 10% of cases
- Combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells
- Response to treatment depends on ratio of cell types
- Offers greatest chance of survival
- Used for diagnosing, removing tumors or easing pain
- Eligible patients have strong health and limited cancer spread
- More than 70% of patients undergo chemotherapy
- Strong drugs shrink tumors and kill cancer cells
- Radiation Therapy
- Reduces pain from growing tumors
- Combined with surgery and chemotherapy
- Used at any cancer stage
- Clinical Trials
- Patients can access experimental therapies
- Provide researchers scientific information to develop new treatments
- Experimental treatments use the immune system to fight the cancer
- Primarily performed in clinical trials
- Alternative Treatments
- Use herbal medicines, mind-body therapies, holistic healing and other complementary therapies
- Mesothelioma Lawsuits
- A mesothelioma patient can file a personal injury lawsuit against companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. The estate, including family members, of the loved one who died from mesothelioma can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Trust Funds
- Bankrupt asbestos companies established trust funds to provide compensation for people who were exposed to asbestos because of the company’s negligence. Asbestos trust funds hold more than $30 billion.
- VA Claims
- Because the U.S. military relied heavily on asbestos, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for benefits, including VA claims for disability compensation, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
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Mesothelioma cancer is treated with conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But not every patient is eligible for each type of mesothelioma treatment. Some patients also opt for emerging cancer treatments, including clinical trials, and alternative therapies.
A balanced mesothelioma diet can help ease your symptoms and speed recovery. Get a free nutrition guide with quick and easy recipes the can improve your quality of life.Request Your Nutrition Guide
The prognosis for mesothelioma is not good. The life expectancy for most patients is about 12 months after diagnosis.
Factors that most affect mesothelioma prognosis are stage and cell type. Age, gender and exposure history also affect outlook. Younger patients and women have a better mesothelioma prognosis than older men. People diagnosed with the peritoneal mesothelioma type also have a higher chance of survival.
Ways to Improve Prognosis
Patients can improve prognosis by eating a nutrient-rich diet, undergoing cancer treatments like multimodal therapy — which is a combination of two or more treatments — and staying healthy.
Legal and financial options for mesothelioma patients and their families include filing for lawsuits or settlements, qualifying for trust funds and applying for VA claims.
These options can provide financial compensation to pay medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. A mesothelioma lawyer can review your case, so you receive the highest compensation.
Our team of Patient Advocates can quickly determine your or a family member’s eligibility for legal action or financial compensation and help connect you with a qualified attorney or certified VA claims agent.Find Out Now
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Last Modified July 30, 2019