What is Mesothelioma?

Your-Health-Online Back-to-Directory A health article about Mesothnelioma from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

This is a medical term defining forms of cancer that proliferates at a very fast rate after it has been diagnosed, which affects the mesothelial cells in the body. After detailed study of this disease by several scientists all over the world, it has been concluded that in most of the cases the reason is the direct contact with loose asbestos particles.

This disease is generally known to be derived from an abnormality that arises from inhaling the loose asbestos particles suspended in the air for a very long time. The chances of the patients, diagnosed of mesothelioma, have very bleak chances of survival which is not more than one or two years and if it has been detected long back and rigorous medication has been started on the patient then the patient is likely to live for about five years.

Mesothelioma is a deadly disease that affects the mesothelial cells, which form the lining over the lungs (pleura), heart (pericardium) and abdominal organs (peritoneum).

Mesothelioma is commonly seen on the pleura, which forms the covering of the lung. Two layers of mesothelial cells called parietal and visceral pleura cover the lung. In between the pleura these is a pleural cavity, which is moistened by a fluid called pleural fluid. The main function of pleura is protection.

It helps to create a negative pressure in chest cavity, which is essential for the process of respiration. The movement of lungs during respiration is made frictionless by the presence of pleura and pleural fluid. Mesothelioma may also affect the peritoneum, which is a mesothelial tissue in the abdomen. The peritoneum covers the abdominal organs. It is also having two layers. The outer parietal peritoneum is attached to the inner wall of the abdomen.

Inner visceral peritoneum is attached to the abdominal organs. In between the two layers there is a cavity called peritoneal cavity. Very rarely mesothelioma affects the pericardium. It is the covering seen around the heart. It is also having two layers, fibrous pericardium and serous pericardium.

Mesothelioma may be benign or malignant but rarely is it benign. Malignant Mesothelroma is relatively rare but for those who are affected, it is a disaster.

70% of all the cases of malignant Mesothelioma are pleural. 10 to 20% are abdominal affecting the peritoneum. Pericardial mesothelioma is very rare. Mesothelioma is an extremely malignant and incurable cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Mesothelioma

There are three types of this condition but the symptoms of the diseases depend on their kinds. The symptoms vary from one-another but the general symptoms that are found in patients suffering from different types of mesothelioma are weight loss, chest pain, loss of appetite, short breath , plain cough and cough with blood.

Diagnosing mesothelioma in its initial stages is not possible because symptoms surface very late and that, these symptoms are no special signs indicating the particular disease but are common for other diseases too.

Generally the symptoms of mesothelioma resemble to that to any other normal lung diseases. Most of the symptoms arise in the lungs, where the mesothelial cells covering the lungs and the cavity between them are affected due to prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers. Consulting with the physician is very necessary from time to time and necessary test must be conducted to detect the disease.

The main symptom of mesothelioma is a constant pain in the chest which is followed by short breaths and difficult breathing because of accumulation of fluid in the chest, which makes breathing all the more difficult. Some of the other symptoms of the disease include abnormalities in the lungs, which can be diagnosed under proper supervision of the doctor with a chest CT-scan.

Basically, the disease advances in four stages. In the first stage, begins the formation of the tumor in the area of lining of the lung and doesn’t exceed from one side of the lung. And then in the second stage the tumor extends to other organs in the chest cavity, such as heart. Then in the third stage its extents to the other abdominal organs affecting all the other organs too.

Finally in the fourth and the last stage the tumor extends to all parts of the body and affects all the parts adversely. These are some of the symptoms of the disease of mesothelioma, by which the disease can be tracked in the initial stages of its occurrence.

Types of Mesothelioma

There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma.

1) Epitheloid: Affects the covering surrounding the internal organs and internal surface of the body. 70% of all cases of mesothelioma are epitheloid.

2) Sarcomatoid: This type affects bones, muscles, and cartilages. 5 to 20 % of cases are of this type. It is more serious than epitheloid type.

3) Mixed type: This type contains both sarcomatoid and epitheloid varieties 20 to 35% are of this type.

Regardless of the area it affects mesothelioma is fatal. The tumor cells may spread to heart and abdominal organs.

Asbestos mesothelioma can have 15 to 30 years latency period. Many cases are dormant for years. Symptoms usually emerge 20 to 30 years after initial exposure. This will allow the cancer to grow and metastasise to distent parts, which in turn reduces survival rate.


- Asbestos is used extensively from 1930

- Mortality is 100% within five years.

- Because asbestos has been used in over 3000 modern products, most people have suffered some degree of exposure at one point in their lives.

- 10000 people die because of Mesthelioma annually.

- The risk of developing cancer is 7 times greater for people who have been exposed to asbestos.

- 80% of people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.

- Every year 2000 new cases are reported in US.

- By 2030 the cases will be 300000

- Over 100000 cases are reported all over the world.

- UP to 8 million people in US are still exposed to asbestos.

- Average Mesothelioma patient survives 4 to 18 months beyond the date of diagnosis

- If diagnosed earlier 50% chance of surviving 2 years.

- More than one million construction workers are still at risk of dangerous asbestos exposure. Signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma:

What Causes Mesothelioma?

The main cause of mesothelioma has been detected as to the prolonged exposure to asbestos. Most of the patients that have been diagnosed with the disease, had acquired the disease cause of prolonged exposure to asbestos. The statistics of the mesothelioma patients has revealed the connection between the asbestos and the dangerous cancer syndrome.

And usually this disease is found to affect people and workers who work in industries. Usually, industries use asbestos as an imperative input for carrying on different processes; it is being used in factories, automobile, shipyard and construction. Direct exposure to loose asbestos fibers can develop the symptoms of mesothelioma, but the infected cells can remain dormant in the body for a long period of about 15-20 years.

But the worst par of the disease is the fact that this disease generally gets detected in older days i.e. at the age of 50-60 years and also mostly in the last stage. Thereby, reducing the chances of the individual’s recovery. So this is very necessary that people who are likely to take in much asbestos particles should be scanned regularly for any symptoms of mesothelioma.

Government policies have empowered the mesothelioma patients to claim for compensation. They can file lawsuits with the help of their attorneys for claiming such compensation. Victims of this illness can sue the company in which he had been employed into, for not being socially rational, but being more inclined towards the flowing profits, and not undertaking any steps to slacken the use of asbestos or using in a more protective way which has resulted in endangering the lives of the employees.

Asbestos is a type of building material used in thermal insulation products and ceiling tiles. Asbestos usage peaked during the 1950s - 1970s, but during the late 1960s, concerns over the health consequences of asbestos exposure began to arise, thereby decreasing the amount of asbestos manufactured over the following two decades. But even though new measures where brought in to get rid of it, many schools and public buildings still contain asbestos.

Small asbestos fibers that enter the air do not evaporate and can remain suspended in the air for a long time. These fibers, when breathed into the body, are toxic. The people most at risk are :-

People working in factories that manufacture asbestos are likely to have a high exposure to asbestos and are most at risk of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Family members of workers exposed to asbestos in the workplace are susceptible to exposure from asbestos dust brought home by the worker on his clothes or skin.

Those who live in the vicinity of an asbestos manufacturing plant are also at risk.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneum is a thin membrane of mesothelial cells. It envelops many of the organs in the abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a tumor that affects this membrane.

Since Peritoneal mesothelioma is located in the abdomen, it is common to experience symptoms such as loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, abdominal swelling etc.

The only known cause of this deadly disease is exposure to asbestos. Usually, Peritoneal mesothelioma is detected only when tumor begins to grow. Like mesothelioma that affects lungs, It can lay dormant for several years without showing any symptom of the disease.

Peritoneal mesothelioma can be either malignant or benign as any kind of cancer. When the tumor grows, abdominal organs are subjected to extreme pressure and this results in distention and bowel obstruction and breathing gets obstructed. A condition called ascites occurs due to collection of fluid in the peritoneal space.

Scientific research has shown that the only cause of Peritoneal mesothelioma is prolonged exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Generally, symptoms of this disease begin to appear several years after exposure. The first step in diagnosing Peritoneal mesothelioma is CT scans and X-rays.

A procedure called peritoneoscopy is conducted under anaesthesia for observing any abnormality in the peritoneum. If any change is detected, a sample tissue is collected for conducting biopsy.

There are treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma though it remains an incurable disease. Medical prognosis is depended by the extent of the tumor, its cell type, size of the tumor etc.

In case the disease is detected and treated early, there are chances for the tumor to respond to treatment. Treatments for Peritoneal mesothelioma include chemotherapy and other drug-based therapies.

It has not yet been found how or why asbestos particles make cells cancerous. But it is well known that the fatal disease is the result of asbestos exposure.

Peritoneal mesothelioma always progressed to later stages before diagnosis because companies did not warn workers that they were being exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers. For decades asbestos companies failed to protect workers and surrounding people from the risk of asbestos exposure.

It could well be concluded that the only way to prevent mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease, is to adopt strict measures to control asbestos exposure.

Risk Factors:

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until between twenty and fifty years after exposure, which explains why so many new cases of this form of cancer are coming to light now. Many people who haven't been in contact with asbestos for decades, are now showing symptoms of this dreadful disease.

As with many forms of cancer, mesothelioma can spread rapidly. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, loss of weight, and chest pains. If it is diagnosed early enough, the tumor can be surgically removed, and with chemotherapy and radiation treatment, a full recovery is often possible.

However, in more advanced cases, cure is usually not possible. In such cases, chemotherapy and radiation treatment can be used alongside other pain relief treatments, to ease the symptoms. Where cure is not possible, the average survival time is between four and eighteen months, depending on the stage of the tumor and the general health of the patient.

Men are more affected. Age is usually over 40. The symptoms of mesothelioma are some times confused with that of common cold or allergic lung disorders. The signs and symptoms may vary according to the parts affected.

Pleural Mesothelioma:-

Initially the patient may complain about constant chest pain. Gradually he will develop breathlessness with cough. The chronic cough worsens over time. Recurrent lung infection is seen in some patients. Patient may complain about shortness of breath with bloody expectoration.

Other general symptoms like loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, weight loss etc are also seen.

Abdominal Mesothelioma:-

It is also known as peritoneal mesothelioma. The Mortality rate is high. 50% to 70% of all cases are men. One fifth of all abdominal Mesothelioma cases are women. Abdominal pain with distention of abdomen is seen.

The distention is due to collection of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Bowel obstruction with nausea and abdominal weakness are also reported. Anemia with blood clotting abnormalities is also present. Patient will have weight loss but waist may increase in size.

General symptoms live loss of appetite, weakness fever etc are also common.

If the cancer spreads (Metastasis) towards the sites beyond mesothelium the symptoms depend on the area affected.

Course and progresses of Mesothelioma:-

Once the case is diagnosed the patient will survive for few months. Even after the introduction of modern treatment techniques the disease is fatal. The tumor spread by local invasion in the pleural cavity and chest wall and by the lymphatics and blood stream to other organs reaches the regional lymph nodes by lymphatics. The cancer cells can also go to brain.


Mesothelioma in itself is one of the deadliest diseases ever to have been discovered by mankind. Medically, Mesothelioma as a word itself means a tumor that is more likely to transform in a fast proliferating cancer which affects the mesothelial cells of an organ, which form the protective thin covering over the organs like heart, lungs and abdomen.

Whatever is the verbal definition given out to this deadly disease, but those can never for sure weigh the deadliness of this fatal disease. It is an absolutely fatal disease which has taken many a people into its deadly grip.

The maximum period of survival after the disease has been diagnosed, has come to the most of a year or two. It is worse form of cancer which is not curable. However, recent studies have suggested that if the disease can be diagnosed at a very early stage then the life of the individual who gets affected by this deadly disease, can be stretched till at the most of 5 years.

The treatment of this disease is very expensive but the treatment doesn’t assure life but a few more days, to procure the huge lump-sum required for the treatment, people also file lawsuits to cover the huge incurring expenses for the treatment.

When to seek Medical Advice:

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma:-

Even with best techniques mesothelioma often evades diagnosis. Early and constant screenings are paramount for those who have suffered asbestos exposure.

The diagnosis is not so easy because;

1) First of all there are few outward symptoms until the condition is gravely advanced.
2) The time between exposure and clinical manifestation takes decades.
3) Mesthelioma often continues even after the exposure has ended.
4) Many sumptoms are common to other less serious diseases.

X-ray: X-ray can show the presence of tumor in the lung and abdomen. It is also helpful to see the presence of fluid in the peritoneal or pleural cavity.

CT scan: This will give more details regarding the tumor and other pathological lesions. CT scan is helpful to exclude other similar diseases.

MRI: Nowadays MRI is used because of the detailed information on the nature of tissues affected.

Aspiration: Aspirated peritoneal or pleural fluid will show malignant cells. Thoracoscopy: Here an instrument called thoracoscope is introduced into the chest through a small wound. It also helps for taking a sample for pathological study.

Peritoneoscopy: Peritoneoscopy is used for this procedure. The tumor can be visualized with this instrument.

Biopsy: It is the final test for diagnosing a cancer. The biopsy sample is taken with the help of endoscopy and histopathological examination is done with the help of microscope. The cancer cells are identified by this method.

Early detection and treatment improve length and quality of life for many victims but can't cure this horrific disease.


Mesothelioma cancer is currently treated through three treatments, depending on the cancer location, the disease stage, and the patient's general health and age. These treatments are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which sometimes are combined to fight the disease in so far as possible.

In a surgery, one of the most common treatments for the condition, the doctor removes part of the lining of the abdomen or the chest and some tissue around it. In a pneumonectomy, the doctor may also remove one lung when the patient has pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the pleura. In other surgical procedure, the doctor may also remove part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing.

Through these procedures, the medical specialist shall try to excise tumourous tissue arising from this cancer disease. As these operations will reduce the patient's respiratory capacity, the surgeon will evaluate the patient's ability to function after a lung tissue removal, before performing a pneumonectomy.

Another method to fight Mesothelioma is chemotherapy or the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. These drugs are given to the patient by an intravenous procedure, an injection into a vein. Currently, experts are studying the effectiveness of intracavitary chemotherapy or the possibility of giving chemotherapy straight to the chest or abdomen.

Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to destroy malignant cells and shrink tumors. It is important to know that this medical procedure attacks the cancer cells only in the treated area. There are two ways of giving this therapy. One, external radiation, in which the radiation comes from a machine, and other, internal radiation, where the cancer cells are found after putting materials that produce radiation into the affected area.

Doctor's way to relieve patient's pain is to use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the abdominal or chest cavities through a procedure called thoracentesis, when it is from the chest, and paracentesis, when the removal is from the abdomen. The specialists may also give the drugs through a tube in the chest to prevent the accumulation of more liquid.

Treatment of Mesothelioma:-

The line of treatment is based upon the stage of cancer, location of the tumor and the general condition of the patient.

The usual treatment plans are radiation surgery and chemotherapy. New treatments like photodynamic therapy, angiogenesis therapy and gene therapy etc provide new hope for mesothelioma patients. Nowadays multimodal therapy is also done to extend the life of affected patient.


Mesothelioma does not respond well to the chemotherapy due to the presence of layers of dead cells around the tumor. Hence the medicine will not reach the cancer cells. Anti cancerous drugs are given in the form of pills or intravenous injections or directly into the affected site. These drugs can kill the cancer cells to some extent. The drugs can also produce some side effects like hair loss, nausea, diarrhoea, anemia, haemorrhages and some toxic reactions. Chemotherapy can suppress the immune system, which will create a chance for infections.


The aim of surgery is to give some relief to the patient. By the removal of tumor pressure effects on other organs can be removed.

a) Pleurectomy: Here the affected part is removed.
b) Pneumonectomy: Affected lung is removed.
c) Thoracenteses and Paracentesis: The procedures are required to remove the fluid collection.
d) Extra pleural pneumonectomy: This method can potentially extend life for a few more years but cannot a cure the disease.

Radiation can shrink the tumor to a manageable size. It can also give relief to pain. Radiation is usually combined with chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation wires, tubes, catheters and needles are used nowadays. Radiation can kill the healthy cells near the tumor, which is a drawback.

Multimodel therapy: It is the combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

Photodynamic therapy: It is one of the modern methods of treatment. Here a special drug is introduced into the tumor cells. When a laser or high intensity light is shined on it the drug will become active and will kill the cancer cells. This method is also having some limitations. The laser can't penetrate deep in to the body. This method can also kill the healthy cells in which the special drug is absorbed.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy concentrates on boosting the immune system to fight against cancer cells. By stimulating the immune system the spread of cells can be prevented.

Angiogenesis therapy: Cancer cells need more blood supply than other normal cells. For this purpose number of capillaries is formal around a tumor. This pathological process is called angiogeness. The angiogenesis promoters secreted by the tumor cell indicate this. By introducing an angiogenesis inhibiting factor angiogenesis can be prevented. When the blood supply to the tumor reduces naturally the tumor size and growth will reduce. This method is in the initial stage of trial and is a new hope for cancer patients.

Self Care strategies for Living with Mesothelioma

Role of Holistic Medicine:-

Holistic medicine deals with the treatment of an individual as a whole rather than treating a disease. Here the whole metal and physical symptoms are considered for treatment. This includes systems like Naturopathy, Yoga, Homoeopathy and herbal medicine.

Meditations also come under this category.

All above mentioned systems stimulate the body's natural mechanisms to fight against diseases and can improve the quality of life to a great extend.

Psychotherapy: It is said that the general health of a cancer patient declines when the case is diagnosed as cancer. He will be collapsed mentally leading to further derangement of his health. Hence moral support, assurance and psychological counseling etc are very essential to improve the general health. Meditation can also help to achieve this goal.

Mesothelioma Support services are to be had at major cancer centers and the patient has to speak with his or her family and seek help from clergy, friends, and institutions concerning the availability of educational materials, telephone support, personalized medical information, online discussions, message boards, and individual consultation with trained counselors.

A legal counseling along with aid from housing, utilities, transportation, accurate medical treatment, pharmaceutical supplies and services should be the prime motto of mesothelioma support.

Support from the family is vital so that all adults should have a will and other necessary paperwork in place, craft a budget, and check cash flow, which can be looked after with the help of the Licensed Certified Financial Planners and Hospital Billing Representatives who will help on insurances.

Mesothelioma support can also be given from

- Bankers and Bank Trust/Loan Officers who will be able to lend money.

- Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid Representatives: They may lend a hand in giving additional sources of income and cover certain hospital payments or prescription costs.

- Attorneys who can often pull through noteworthy compensation from the Asbestos issues, guide while making a will and arrange healthcare powers of attorney and other key papers. A good lawsuit will give you the chance to win more easily.

New vistas

You should stop feeling emotionally frustrated and alone - there are many mesothelioma support groups that can help you build up your confidence. Some are:

- Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR)

- Alliance for Lung Cancer, Advocacy, Support and Education Support Groups help you to ease a bit.

- Alliance for Lung Cancer, Advocacy, Support and Education Support Hotline for support.

- American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Cancer Resource that has a free information program to lend a hand to the isolated cancer patients and let their families understand more about cancer, its dealings and the resources accessible to help them in beating this disease.

- Cancer Care Counseling proposes free professional counseling individually or through professional mesothelioma support groups both online and individually.

- Cancer Information and Counseling Line (CICL) has a national toll-free telephone information line intended to assist people with cancer and their families.

- An online community called the Cancer Survivors Network is planned for cancer survivors and their families and friends.

- Gilda's Club, Inc provides emotional support to the mesothelioma patients.

- Hospicelink is an independent, charitable organization, giving news on hospice and soothing care guiding through likewise programmes.

- I Can Cope is a mesothelioma support made under American Cancer Society that offers several courses that are considered to help participants to handle with their cancer experience by increasing their information, positive outlook, and skills.

- Stories of Hope that is an inspiration to the people to fight the disease.

Don't hesitate to take these mesothelioma support programmes, they are designed for your betterment.

Around 2,500 to 4,000 patients, yearly, are diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases in the U.S, so the mesothelioma support seeks to give you a full support. Information is power - get it and see how the problems cease to exist.

Diet change strategies:

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

Nutrition products are not going to cure cancer and they are not a realist answer for dealing with this illness but they can be very useful tin keeping the body as strong as possible so that it can deal with the stresses of the treatments more effectively.

Some specific nutrition products that may be of interest are:

Aloe Vera Juice is a refreshing and anti-bacterial drink, you might find that taking this daily, diluted in some filtered water will not only refresh you like ‘a shower inside you’ but also assists in dealing with any digestive issues you may also be experiencing.

You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet

It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?

It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.

Further reading through our articles on Mesothelioma health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this Mesothelioma problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about Mesothelioma :

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