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Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and abdomen, so far only known to be caused by asbestos. It occurs due to inhaled fibres penetrating the lung walls, causing cancer in the lining of the lung (pleura). If swallowed, fibres can penetrate the stomach or bowels and cause cancer in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum). Mesothelioma has:

  • High association with amphibole asbestos (brown and blue)
  • Can take up to 45 years to develop after initial exposure
  • Extremely aggressive (“Turbo charged”) cancer
  • No relation to smoking
  • Death usually occurs within 6-18 months after diagnosis
  • There is no cure

  • Overview

    Cancerous and aggressive, mesothelioma affects the thin lining of internal organs, most commonly the lungs and abdomen. It is primarily linked to exposure to asbestos fibres, often with symptoms not appearing until decades later. Early detection is challenging, and treatment options typically include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Despite advancements in treatment, mesothelioma remains a challenging disease to manage, necessitating ongoing research and support for affected individuals and their families.

  • Types

    Mesothelioma presents in several types, primarily categorized by the affected area of the body’s lining.

    • Pleural mesothelioma, the most common form, occurs in the lining of the lungs, while peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdominal lining.
    • Less common are pericardial mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the heart, and testicular mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the testicles.
    • Each type may present unique symptoms and treatment challenges, requiring specialized care tailored to the affected area.
  • By Frank Gaillard - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


    Treatment options for mesothelioma depend on several factors, including the stage of the disease, the location of the tumours, and the overall health of the patient. Common approaches include surgery to remove tumours or affected tissue, chemotherapy to target cancer cells, and radiation therapy to shrink tumours and alleviate symptoms. Emerging treatments such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy are also being explored. Treatment plans are often personalized to each patient’s specific needs and may involve a combination of these modalities to improve outcomes and quality of life.

  • What To Do

    Support for mesothelioma patients and their families is crucial throughout the journey of diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. This support can come in various forms, including access to specialized healthcare professionals, counselling services to address emotional and psychological needs, and support groups where individuals can connect with others facing similar challenges. Additionally, financial assistance programs and legal guidance may be available to help navigate the complexities of medical bills and potential legal claims related to asbestos exposure. Providing comprehensive support is essential in helping patients and their loved ones cope with the physical, emotional, and financial burdens of mesothelioma.

  • Prevention

    Preventing mesothelioma begins with minimizing exposure to asbestos, the primary cause of the disease. This includes avoiding occupations or environments where asbestos exposure is likely and following proper safety protocols when working with asbestos-containing materials. Additionally, homeowners should be cautious when renovating older buildings or homes, as asbestos may be present in insulation, flooring, or other materials. Regular monitoring and testing for asbestos in the environment can also help identify and mitigate potential risks. By taking proactive measures to prevent asbestos exposure, individuals can reduce the likelihood of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.