Types, staging, diagnosis and treatment


Mesothelioma is cancer of the mucous membrane that protects internal organs. It usually occurs in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. There is no cure for this cancer.

All types of mesothelioma are rare. But pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lungs.

Exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma. People with certain genetic mutations or who have had radiation treatment for cancer can also get mesothelioma.

People who worked with asbestos at work may have developed mesothelioma. Many asbestos manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy and set up trusts to pay compensation.

Other people exposed to asbestos-contaminated talcum powder can also get mesothelioma. These people have reported talcum powder lawsuits.

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Types of Mesothelioma

There are four types of mesothelioma. All species are rare. Doctors only diagnose about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma affects the lung cavity or pleura. It is the most common type of the disease. The Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America says that about three-quarters of all cases are pleural. Doctors can misdiagnose as lung cancer or viral pneumonia. Symptoms include chronic chest pain, shortness of breath, chronic cough, weight loss, and fever.


Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and is the most common type of disease.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of malignant mesothelioma. It accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all cases. It affects the peritoneum. The peritoneum is tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Symptoms include weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, intestinal obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever.

Mesothelioma recording

Micrograph of peritoneal mesothelioma that can cause fluid retention

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma affects the pericardium or pericardium. It’s very rare. There are only about 150 reported cases. Doctors usually diagnose it in people 40 to 70 years old. It is more common in men than in women. Symptoms include chest pain, fluid buildup around the heart, abnormal or difficult breathing, chronic cough, and irregular heartbeat.

Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis

The least common type of the disease is mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis. It is also called paratesticular mesothelioma. This affects the lining around the testicles. Fewer than 100 cases have ever been reported. Symptoms include fluid buildup in the testes or a hernia. The main treatment is orchiectomy. Orchidectomy is the removal of the affected testis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because mesothelioma is so rare, doctors often suspect other diseases with similar symptoms. To diagnose mesothelioma, doctors may use chest X-rays, echocardiograms, CT and PET scans, and MRI.

They also take tissue samples for a pathologist to examine. This is called a biopsy.

Average age

The average age of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma is 69.

curative treatment

Doctors can treat mesothelioma, but most cases do not lead to a cure. Traditional treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

Doctors will often use chemotherapy or radiotherapy to stunt the growth of a tumor before attempting surgery.

Palliative treatment

Doctors can also provide palliative treatment for mesothelioma. Palliative treatment manages the pain and symptoms of the disease.

Two palliative procedures for pleural mesothelioma are thoracentesis and pleurodesis.

Thoracentesis is an outpatient procedure. Doctors drain the buildup of fluid in the membranes around the lungs.

Pleurodesis aims to prevent fluid accumulation. Surgeons place talcum powder in the lung cavity to create scar tissue. The scar tissue prevents moisture from building up in the space.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma. But not all people exposed to asbestos get mesothelioma.

Risk factors include a personal history of asbestos exposure, living with someone who has worked with asbestos, and a family history of mesothelioma.

Family in danger

Children and spouses of people who work with asbestos can develop mesothelioma.

The federal government began banning asbestos for various uses in 1973. Yet manufacturers still use asbestos. Asbestos can be dangerous in any situation where fibers are released into the air.

For example, people who carry out house renovation, shipbuilding or construction work can inhale asbestos fibres. The fibers can cause tissue scarring and genetic changes that lead to mesothelioma.

Families of people who work with asbestos can also inhale asbestos through clothing, hair or skin.

By the early 2000s, nearly a million people and families lawsuits filed against manufacturers.

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Did you develop mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos?

Talcum powder and mesothelioma

Talcum powder contaminated with asbestos can also cause mesothelioma. Exposure to talcum powder can be industrial or cosmetic. Talcum powder contaminated with asbestos can become airborne and enter the body.

The FDA does not allow asbestos in talcum powder. But talcum powder manufacturers don’t have to show the FDA safety studies. This means that the FDA cannot guarantee that talcum powder in the US does not contain asbestos.

People who work in talcum powder factories, as painters or plumbers using talc products or any other industry that uses talc may be at risk.

Consumer products such as baby powder can also expose people to contaminated talc.

Staging and Life Expectancy

Doctors assess pleural mesothelioma in four stages. They look at how far the cancer has spread to determine the stage.

Stage 1 means the cancer has not spread. Stage 4 means it has spread through the lymph nodes and other organs.

The survival rate of pleural mesothelioma varies depending on the patient’s stage. No staging information is available for other forms of mesothelioma because they are rare and not well studied.

  • PHASE 1

    Median survival – 21 months


    Median survival – 19 months

  • PHASE 3

    Median survival – 16 months

  • PHASE 4

    Median Survival – 12 months

People who are younger and feminine tend to survive longer. People who are able to perform normal tasks of daily living and have no chest pain or weight loss are also more likely to survive longer.

Seek advice from a medical professional before making health care decisions.

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