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What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer.
It is caused only by exposure to ASBESTOS a fire-resistant group of minerals made of microscopic fibers that were once widely used on navy ships, and in construction, automotive products, gaskets and other equipment.

Mesothelioma typically develops at least 20 YEARS after exposure to asbestos.
The cancer develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs, including the lungs and stomach.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Developing gradually over time,
symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs include:

shortness of breath
weight loss
swollen finger tips
fever and sweating

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the stomach, and symptoms include:

Feeling nauseous

Feeling nauseous

Swelling and pain in the stomach

Swelling and pain in the stomach

unexplained weightloss

Unexplained weight loss

Diarrhea or constipation

Diarrhea or constipation

Facts & Statistics

Cancer diagnosis in US

In 2017 there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new patients diagnosed with cancer in the United States, with 600,920 Americans dying from the disease.

mesothelioma diagnosis

Of these sufferers, 3000 will be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

mesothelioma in men vs women

Mesothelioma occurs four times more often in men than in women.

meso rate

From 2009 to 2013, the rate of mesothelioma was 1.4 per 100,000 of the population.

life expectancy

Over the 40 year period from 1973 to 2013, the survival rate for mesothelioma has remained steady with just seven to nine percent of patients living five years or longer.

california meso deaths

California is the US state with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths: 2,637 deaths between 2001 and 2010.

florida meso deaths

Florida follows closely behind with 1713 deaths over the same period.

US government cause of death

The US government did not begin to classify asbestos cancers as a cause of death until 1999.

death rate in elderly

The death rate for mesothelioma in the US is highest among 75-84 year olds with 72.4 deaths per million.

meso in the uk

The US isn’t the only country with increasing rates of death from mesothelioma. In the UK, mortality rates have increased by 887% since the early 1970s.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Detection

Mesothelioma can cause many symptoms, some that may be mistaken for a common cold. It’s important to visit your doctor if you have cold-like symptoms that won’t go away and you suspect you were exposed to asbestos in the past.

Common Procedures for Detecting Mesothelioma

A physical exam and medical history checkup by your doctor.

If you have any signs or symptoms that suggest you might have mesothelioma, your doctor will want a full check of your medical history to learn about your symptoms and exposure to asbestos.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests use x-rays, radioactive particles, sound waves, or magnetic fields to create pictures of the inside of your body. 

Imaging tests might be done for a number of reasons, such as checking for areas in the body that could be cancer.

Chest X-Ray

chest xray

This is often the first test done if someone has symptoms such as a constant cough that could be related to asbestos exposure.

Findings that might suggest mesothelioma include an abnormal thickening of the pleura, calcium deposits on the pleura, fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall, or changes in the lungs themselves as a result of asbestos exposure.

CT Scan


CT scans are often used to help look for mesothelioma and to determine the exact location of the cancer. 

They can also help determine the stage of the cancer. For example, they can show if the cancer has spread to other organs.

PET Scan

For this test, a form of radioactive sugar (known as FDG) is injected into the blood. Because cancer cells in the body are growing quickly, they absorb more of the radioactive sugar. This radioactivity can be seen with a special camera.

Often a PET scan is combined with a CT scan using a special machine that can do both at the same time. This lets the doctor compare areas of higher radioactivity on the PET scan with the more detailed apperance of that area on the CT scan. The is the type of PET scan most often used in patients with lung cancer.

PET Scan

Thoracentesis Biopsy

Thoracentesis Biopsy

If there is a buildup of fluid around the lungs (called a pleural effusion), doctors can perform thoracentesis to find out if it is caused by cancer spreading to the lining of the lungs (pleura). The buildup might also be caused by other conditions, such as heart or an infection.

For this procedure, the skin is numbed and a hollow needle is inserted between the ribs to drain the fluid.

In a similar test called pericardiocentesis, fluid is removed from within the sac around the heart.

The fluid is checked under a microscope for cancer cells.

Chemical tests of the fluid are also sometimes useful in telling a malignant (cancerous) pleural effusion from one that is not.

Download Your Free Mesothelioma Handbook & Treatment Guide

Free Mesothelioma Patient

& Treatment Guide

We’d like to offer you our in-depth guide, “A Patient’s Guide to Mesothelioma,” absolutely free of charge.

It contains a wealth of information and resources to help you better understand the condition, choose (and afford) appropriate treatment, and exercise your legal right to compensation.

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