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Mesothelioma Cancer Information

What Is Mesothelioma?

Each year some 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer usually associated with exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma tumors occur in the thin membranes that line the lungs, abdomen or heart. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is very serious. Although many cases are fatal within two years, early diagnosis and proper treatment can often lead to a better quality of life and extended survival.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, a chronic cough, chest and back pain, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and weight loss. Other symptoms may include weakness, abdominal pain and nausea. Mesothelioma can occur as the result of very low levels of exposure to asbestos fibers. It often takes several decades for signs of the disease to surface.

Read more about mesothelioma symptoms.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually made by a pathological review of tissue taken from the tumor. Pathologists use a series of immunohistochemical stains to distinguish between mesothelioma and other types of cancer.

When detected early enough and treated by an oncologist with experience treating mesothelioma, a patient’s prognosis may be much better than the average. Early detection is vital. Treatment protocols used for mesothelioma include chemotherapy, surgical removal of tumor, and post-surgical radiation.

Learn more about a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Types of Mesothelioma:

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, followed by peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is exceptionally rare.

Histological Types of Mesothelioma:

There are three main histological types of mesothelioma:

  • Epithelioid Mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma accounting for the majority of diagnosis, with malignancy usually starting in the lungs.
  • Sarcomatoid, the least commonly diagnosed type of mesothelioma, malignancy often occurring in other internal body organs besides the lungs
  • Mixed / Biphasic Mesothelioma, the second largest type, as the name implies, biphasic is a mixture of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cancers