Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in older individuals who worked with asbestos products. Prognosis for mesothelioma is poor, but early detection and new treatment provide hope for many patients.

Free 2018 Mesothelioma Guide

Free

Mesothelioma Guide

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have treatment options and legal rights.

Free 2018 Mesothelioma Guide
Cause
Survival Rate
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Inflammation from asbestos fibers
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Symptoms
Survival Rate
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid buildup in lungs
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Diagnosis
Survival Rate
  • About 3,000 new cases each year
  • Symptoms appear 10 – 50 years after exposure
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Prognosis
Survival Rate
  • Average life expectancy: 6 – 12 months
  • 33% of patients live longer than a year
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Recognizing
Mesothelioma Symptoms

Patients begin to show signs of cancer around 10 to 50 years after their initial exposure to asbestos. Symptoms will differ by the type of mesothelioma, but these early symptoms are often mistaken for more common ailments, like the flu, pneumonia or lung cancer. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma early will increase treatment options and improve overall prognosis.

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Common Mesothelioma Symptoms

Shortness of breath Shortness of breath

Persistent cough Persistent cough

Chest pain Chest pain

Fatigue Fatigue

Fever Fever

Weight Loss Weight Loss

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How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Malignant mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because of its long latency period and nonspecific symptoms. Doctors will use a series of tests (blood tests, imaging, biopsies) to diagnose the cancer and determine its stage. The stage and other diagnostic details will provide information about your prognosis – that is, how the disease is likely to progress and what your life expectancy may be.

Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy

Most mesothelioma patients live between 6 months and 2 years after diagnosis.

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Survival Rate

Survival Rate

About 40% of patients live 1 year, while only 20% live 2 years or longer.

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Diagnosis

Diagnosis

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Staging

Staging

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Prognosis

Prognosis

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Stages of Mesothelioma

Stage 1
  • No spreading of the cancer
  • More treatment options
  • Average survival of 21 months
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Stage 2
  • Limited spreading to nearby organs
  • Curative treatment options available
  • Average survival of 19 months
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Stage 3
  • Spreading to lymph nodes and nearby organs
  • Fewer curative treatment options
  • Average survival of 16 months
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Stage 4
  • Wide spreading to both sides of the body
  • Treatment limited to palliative care
  • Average survival of 12 months
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Types of Mesothelioma

Once diagnosed, your doctor will tell you what type of mesothelioma you have, including the cell type. There are three main types of mesothelioma based on the location in the body where tumors originate.

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Pleural
Mesothelioma

80%

  • The most common type
  • Forms in the lining of the lungs or chest wall
  • About 2,500 new cases per year
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Peritoneal
Mesothelioma

20%

  • Relatively rare type
  • Affects the abdominal lining
  • About 500 new cases per year
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Pericardial
Mesothelioma

1%

  • The least common type
  • Develops in the lining of the heart
  • Less than 50 new cases per year
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Cell Type

Mesothelioma cancer is further categorized by the cell type that makes up the tumors. Each cell type grows and spreads in different ways, which ultimately affects how a patient may respond to cancer treatment and their life expectancy.

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Percent of Mesthelioma cases by cell type
Epithelioid

50 – 70%

  • Commonly occurs in the lungs
  • Most responsive to treatment
  • Average survival of 18-24 months
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Biphasic

20 – 40%

  • Found in the lungs or abdominal cavity
  • Response to treatment varies
  • Average survival of 10-15 months
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Sarcomatoid

10 – 20%

  • Rarely identified in the lungs and abdomen
  • Treatment is often limited to palliative options
  • Average survival of 4-6 months
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Treating Mesothelioma

Most often, mesothelioma is treated with a multimodal plan, or combination, of conventional cancer treatment methods including surgery and chemotherapy. Treatment will either focus on extending life expectancy or, at a late stage, focus on palliative care to relieve side effects. Research and clinical trials have found new hope for a potential cure with emerging treatments, like immunotherapy, to combat the disease and improve life expectancy.

After receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, the most important step is finding a mesothelioma doctor who specializes in asbestos-related diseases. They will be the best person to determine the most effective treatment options for your individual case, and will also be aware of the latest treatment advancements or clinical trials available. Creating a custom treatment plan with a mesothelioma doctor is the most effective way to improve prognosis.

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  • Find a Doctor Near You
Conventional Treatments
Survival Rate
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are often used together to treat mesothelioma.
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Emerging Treatments
Survival Rate
Researchers have found new treatment types and combinations in clinical trials that show promise in treating mesothelioma.
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Asbestos is the Only Known Cause of Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a natural mineral once used in many products because of its durability and heat resistance. It was used most heavily in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s, even though researchers confirmed the dangerous health risks of exposure in the 1920s. Despite the risks, asbestos is still not banned today, and it can still be found in old buildings and products.

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More about Asbestos
What is Asbestos
What is Asbestos
The natural mineral is responsible for thousands of diagnoses each year.
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Occupational Exposure
Occupational Exposure
Studies show 125 million workers globally are exposed to asbestos on the job each year.
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Mesothelioma & Veterans
Mesothelioma & Veterans
Veterans of all military branches make up about one-third of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
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Coping with Mesothelioma and Finding Support

As you learn about mesothelioma and move forward with treatment, it’s important to know you are never alone. Connecting with others in the community who can help you through the tough times.

Caregiving

Caregiving

Find support as you help your loved one through their diagnosis.
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Support Groups

Support Groups

Having the right support system can help overcome the trials that come with mesothelioma.
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Advocate

Advocate

Everyone can get involved in the fight to end mesothelioma and ban asbestos.
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Ban Asbestos

Ban Asbestos

The toxin is still not banned in the United States or 70% of the world.
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