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Mesothelioma Medical Information

Mesothelioma Basics

What is Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma, though rare, is an aggressive form of cancer most commonly arising in the pleura, or lining, of the lung (pleural mesothelioma). Mesothelioma can also occur in the lining of the stomach (peritoneal mesothelioma) as well as the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).

carpenterThe overwhelmingly accepted cause of malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a natural but deadly mineral widely used as a construction material during the mid to late 20th century in Texas as well as the rest of the country.

The time of an individual’s exposure to asbestos to the development and diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is called the “latency period.” This long period of 30, 40, and even 50 years is very common. Tragically, even minimal or short-term exposures to asbestos can cause malignant mesothelioma.

Many of the 2,000 — 3,000 mesothelioma victims diagnosed each year in the United States are people who were exposed to asbestos decades ago while working in oilfields, refineries, steel mills, power houses, residential homes, commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, and U.S. Navy vessels. Sadly, women and children may also develop mesothelioma from asbestos brought into the home on the work clothes of fathers, husbands, and other family members that were exposed to asbestos in the work place.

All three cell types or strains of mesothelioma are very aggressive. The long-term prognosis for each type of mesothelioma is poor:


Mesothelioma Symptoms

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How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

mesothelioma diagnosisDoctors may use a combination of procedures to render a diagnosis. However, the diagnosis of mesothelioma is typically confirmed by a pathologists who examines a tissue biopsy or fluid. Pathology tests are performed on samples of body fluid or tissue to determine the cell type. Certain types of dyes or coloring are added to the patient’s biopsy samples. Depending on how the tissue responds to the dye, the doctor can make a diagnosis. The type of staining performed to render a mesothelioma diagnosis is known as immunohistochemical staining.

Other medical procedures that may occur prior to and lead to a pathologic diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma include:


What are Mesothelioma Treatment Options?

mesothelioma treatmentScientists and doctors are working everyday to find a cure for mesothelioma. Currently, the most common treatments involve a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

The most common chemotherapy regimen for mesothelioma involves a combination of the chemotherapy drugs Alitma (Pemetrexed) and Cisplatin.

One surgery treatment option for some mesothelioma patients is known as an extrapleural pneumonectomy or EPP. An EPP involves removing the lung where the tumor is found as well as the lung lining or pleura, the diaphragm and the pericardium. Even with this surgery, the overall treatment plan still includes chemotherapy or radiation.

Other treatment options involve clinical trials. Clinical trials are a type of research study to test how well new medical approaches work in people. Clinical trials for mesothelioma involve new drugs or chemotherapy treatments.

Links for some of the on-going clinical trials for mesothelioma are listed below:

Treatment options are evolving and research on new treatment options and experimental therapies are ongoing. There are many dedicated doctors and scientists devoting their professional lives to prolong life expectancies and to ultimately find a cure for mesothelioma.


How Do I Find a Mesothelioma Doctor?

senior couple mesothelioma DoctorTreating mesothelioma involves a multidisciplinary approach requiring the collaboration of expert surgeons, oncologists, pathologists and others. If you are concerned about whether you are suffering from mesothelioma, the first step is to immediately contact your family doctor, a pulmonologist or a treatment center near you.

Major treatment centers in the United States with Mesothelioma treatment programs include:

List of Physicians, Cancer Treatment and Research Centers by State

download PDF: Medical Treatment Resource List download arrow


Where Can I Get More Mesothelioma Medical Information?

medical containersThe first and best source for medical information is your doctor. There are also several good general sources of information on the Internet. Some of the links to other Web sites that may help you find more medical information are:

American Medical Association

US Clinical Trials

National Cancer Institute



How Do I Find Support Groups for Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare disease, so it can be difficult to locate support groups in your area. However, it's important to find other people that are experiencing many of the same challenges you may be facing.

Very worthwhile support group: