Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that predominantly affects men. The disease is characterized by a long dormant period that can last 35 to 40 years before the onset of serious symptoms. Diagnosis is difficult because over half of patients with mesothelioma show no symptoms.

What is mesothelioma?

In Mesothelioma, malignant tumors usually develop in the mesothelium, the lining covering the lungs and chest cavity. The growth of tumors plus the accumulation of fluid betweeen the lungs and their lining cause a shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain.


The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos in the workplace or home. Inhaling or swallowing this fibrous mineral can lead to serious medical implications. Living with a person who works near asbestos is also a risk factor for developing the disease.


Early symptoms often resemble pneumonia and include a fatigue, a chronic cough, bloody phlegm, shortness of breath, chest and abdominal pain and difficulty breathing. Further symptoms may include a mass in the abdomen, abdominal pain, weight loss and problematic bowel function. Severe cases may include jaundice, blood clots and severe bleeding in body organs.


A chest x-ray, CT scan of the chest, and MRI and/or an open lung biopsy reveal the mesothelioma. Treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy and radiation.

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