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What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) but can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) or heart (pericardial mesothelioma). It is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral once widely used in construction and other industries due to its heat resistance and insulating properties.

Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma: Affects the pleura, the lining of the lungs.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Affects the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity.

Pericardial Mesothelioma: Affects the pericardium, the lining of the heart.

Causes and Risk Factors

The primary risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can lead to inflammation and scarring, which may eventually cause mesothelioma. Other risk factors may include family history, genetics, and exposure to certain types of radiation.


Symptoms of mesothelioma can vary based on the type and stage of the disease, but common symptoms may include:

Chest pain or tightness

Shortness of breath


Weight loss

Abdominal pain or swelling (in peritoneal mesothelioma)


Diagnosing mesothelioma is challenging and often involves a combination of physical examinations, imaging studies (such as CT scans or MRIs), and biopsies.


Treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these. Treatment plans are individualized based on factors like the type, stage, and patient’s overall health.


Mesothelioma is often diagnosed at a late stage, and the prognosis is generally poor. However, early detection and advances in treatment can improve survival rates.


Preventing exposure to asbestos is the primary means of preventing mesothelioma. This includes following safety regulations in occupations where asbestos exposure might occur and properly handling or removing asbestos-containing materials in buildings.


Mesothelioma is a complex and devastating disease with a strong link to asbestos exposure. Understanding the nature, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mesothelioma is essential for those at risk and for the medical community working to combat this aggressive cancer.