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packet of books and informational pamphlets on Mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer found in the lining surrounding the lungs, the stomach, the heart or the testicles. This cancer takes its name from the name that is given to this lining - the mesothelium. There are roughly 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the United States every year. Currently, the only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.

Type of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

The cancer starts in the lining around the lungs (called the “pleura”). This is the most common type of mesothelioma.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The cancer starts in the lining around the stomach. (Note: This lining extends into the area of the scrotum. There are very rare instances where the cancer starts here. When it does, in men, it is sometimes referred to as “testicular mesothelioma.”)

Pericardial Mesothelioma

The cancer starts in the lining around the heart. This type of
mesothelioma is very uncommon.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma


  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pains
  • Weight loss


  • Buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures (less common)
  • Buildup of gas


  • Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pains
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Causes of Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos causes these microscopic fibers to get lodged in the lining of the chest or abdomen. Over time, the fibers cause tumor development because the body is incapable of expelling the fibers.

Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Mesothelioma treatment is getting better every year and patients are living longer as a result. Patients may turn to traditional therapies, like chemotherapy and radiation, as well as clinical trials, which may lead to a cure in the future.


Patients whose mesothelioma hasn’t spread too far may be eligible for surgical treatment. This is the best way to remove large portions of affected tissue.


The go-to treatment for any type of cancer, chemotherapy is the traditional way to kill off cancer cells in the body. Mesothelioma requires certain chemotherapy solutions to be effective.


Radiation is another traditional cancer treatment. Radiation therapy is noninvasive and beneficial for all stages and types of mesothelioma.