Mesothelioma 101

Mesothelioma 101: Causes And Signs Of The Fatal Cancer

Mesothelioma is a rare and often deadly form of cancer that occurs on the thin outer layer of the organs (also known as the mesothelium). It usually occurs due to prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers.

The malignant form of mesothelioma cancer is often fatal, and the chances of survival are low; most of the time, the life expectancy after the diagnosis is 12-21 months (about two years). Mesothelioma specialists might be able to prolong a patient’s life through surgery (if possible), chemotherapy and radiation. Otherwise, the specialists can provide the patients with palliative care to make them as comfortable as possible through those difficult times.

The benign form of mesothelioma, on the other hand, has a better survival rate. It does not spread to organs and can usually be treated through surgery and radiation therapy without the risk of it returning.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

The only known cause of mesothelioma is prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. People diagnosed with mesothelioma are either directly (due to the nature of their work, such as construction workers) or indirectly (through prolonged interaction with people dealing with asbestos) exposed to it.

Mesothelioma cancer occurs when the DNA in cells is damaged. When people inhale asbestos fibers, these fibers travel through each airway and reach the pleura, resulting in inflammation and scarring, damaging the cell’s DNA and causing uncontrolled cell growth. It is how pleural cancer starts and spreads. When the asbestos fibers are swallowed, they reach the human body’s abdominal lining, resulting in peritoneal mesothelioma.

You can find more information about asbestos, mesothelioma’s causes, symptoms, and legal solutions at It is vital to spread awareness regarding its causes and early indications (symptoms).

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to six types of natural mineral fibers that are fire and chemical resistant. Asbestos is commonly used in the construction and manufacturing industries. These fibers can be found in the ceiling, shingles, and tiles of many old buildings and houses (authorities banned the use of asbestos in 1999 after serious health complications occurred due to it). Manufacturing industries use asbestos in brake pads and linings.

Firefighting is another profession with high asbestos exposure. A National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) study shows that firefighters are twice as likely to develop mesothelioma as the general population. While putting out fires, the firefighters inhale a lot of asbestos fibers which get lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and other organs.

Symptoms Of Mesothelioma:

1. Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a form of cancer that grows around the thin layer of tissue and membranes of the lungs and chest. It is usually malignant. Early signs of pleural mesothelioma may seem like a respiratory disease such as pneumonia or flu.

Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pains
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the side of the chest.
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of face and arms
  • Weakness of muscles
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

Pleural is the most generic form of mesothelioma. Three out of four mesothelioma cancer cases are pleural, and approximately 3000 Americans receive this diagnosis yearly.

These symptoms must be identified and caught early so patients can start the treatment immediately because it is very important to control mesothelioma in the lungs.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by ingesting asbestos fibers that attach to the soft abdominal lining. Early peritoneal mesothelioma indicates conditions like menstrual issues, fibroids, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Common indications of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

After pleural, peritoneal is the second most generic form of mesothelioma. Less than a thousand people are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in Unites states.

If the symptoms are caught and diagnosed early, treatments such as chemotherapy drugs, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), and, if possible, surgery can be administered.

3. Pericardial Mesothelioma

This form of mesothelioma is exceedingly rare and results in cancer growth around the heart’s thin lining, also known as the pericardium. Heart tumors are rare, but when they occur, they are usually due to metastasis from cancer elsewhere in the body. Early indications of pericardial mesothelioma may be mistaken as heart diseases such as a pericardial disease or a faulty heart valve.

Common symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart murmur
  • Dyspnea
  • Heart palpitations

It is important to get checked and diagnosed since the heart cannot pump blood efficiently anymore and can even lead to heart failure in extreme cases.

Fewer than 200 cases of pericardial mesothelioma have been reported. Hence, the knowledge and treatments are limited.

4. Testicular Mesothelioma

Another rare form of mesothelioma cancer is testicular mesothelioma. Testicular mesothelioma may occur after a person ingests asbestos fibers that become lodged deep in the testicular lining. It causes tumor growth along the thin testicular lining. Testicular mesothelioma causes painful symptoms that might be mistaken for epididymitis, STDs, or a rash.

Common indications of testicular mesothelioma include:

  • Fluid buildup in the scrotum
  • Swollen testes
  • Testicular pain
  • Lump on the scrotum

Testicular mesothelioma only accounts for one percent of mesothelioma patients. Surgery (if possible), chemotherapy and radiation therapy are provided as treatment for this form of mesothelioma to prolong the patient’s life.

5. General Symptoms Of Mesothelioma

Although each form of mesothelioma has unique symptoms, there are some common indicators of mesothelioma in all its types.

Common indicators:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood clots
  • Loss of appetite

To Conclude

The only known and proven cause of mesothelioma so far is prolonged exposure to asbestos. Hence, you must read your job contract and description very carefully or choose a profession that does not put you at risk of prolonged exposure to asbestos.

Most mesothelioma symptoms indicate other diseases that are not as serious as mesothelioma. Usually, that is true, but you must check for mesothelioma if you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above and think you might have been exposed to asbestos.

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