Myth: Mesothelioma is a lung cancer.
Truth: Mesothelioma is a not a lung cancer. Mesothelioma in its most common form originates in the pleural lining of the lung. Mesothelioma may cause similar respiratory symptoms as lung carcinomas, but are not true lung cancers. Treatment can vary greatly between mesothelioma and lung cancer programs.
Myth: Only those who worked with asbestos can develop mesothelioma.
Truth: While the overwhelming majority of cases are the result of those who have come into contact with asbestos via their occupation, other cases do exist. There have been documented cases of mesothelioma in spouses and children of workers who dealt with asbestos regularly contracting mesothelioma. It is possible to bring into the home the tiny asbestos fibers on clothing or other gear, which could potentially endanger the families of those who work with asbestos as well.
Myth: A small amount of asbestos exposure is O.K.
Truth: No amount of exposure to asbestos is safe! Cancer caused by asbestos is usually only the result of a few particularly resistant fibers lodged in the pleural lining of the lung.
Myth: There is no assistance available for families of mesothelioma patients.
Truth: There are several levels of assistance available for families of mesothelioma patients, including financial compensation. Asbestos exposure is typically the result of negligent occupational conditions, leaving financial settlements available. Social and medical consultations are also available through several cancer centers.
Myth: Mesothelioma is only a cancer of the pleural lining of the lung.
Truth: While less common, mesothelioma has other forms in addition to pleural malignant mesothelioma. Malignant pericardial mesothelioma is a rare, but aggressive form of the disease which attacks the pericardial lining of the heart. Likewise, malignant peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneal lining of the abdominal cavity. The only known cause for all kinds of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers.
Myth: There is no hope for mesothelioma patients
Truth: While there is no cure for mesothelioma in any of its forms, there are people who work day and night towards finding a cure and eradicating this deadly disease. Doctors and researchers are constantly developing new mesothelioma treatment options, engaging new clinical trials, and working towards making patients with mesothelioma live as long and as comfortably as possible.
Myth: Mesothelioma is an inoperable cancer.
Truth: While in many cases surgery is ruled out, if detected early enough, successful surgical resections of mesothelioma have occurred. Unfortunately, often the stage of the disease will rule out surgery as a curative option, leaving the patients with alternatives such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Myth: Mesothelioma only affects smokers
Truth: While smoking certainly exacerbates the possibility of contracting mesothelioma, cases have certainly been found in non-smokers. The fact of the matter is that anyone who was exposed to asbestos could potentially be in danger.
- American Cancer Society: Detailed Guide. What is Malignant Mesothelioma?. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_is_malignant_mesothelioma_29.asp?rnav=cri
Last modified: February 15, 2010.