What Is Mesothelioma? A Guide to Understanding this Rare Cancer

Mesothelioma Guide

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive type of cancer that develops in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. The disease is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos—a naturally occurring mineral that contains tiny fibers that can be breathed in and can get trapped in the body. When asbestos exposure is inhaled or ingested, the fibers become lodged in the mesothelium—a thin membrane that one of the layers of the body’s organs—causing the abnormal, abnormal growth of cells to form a cancerous tumor.

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What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

The symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on the type and size of the tumor, but the most common include chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing, hoarseness, anemia, and fatigue. Other symptoms may include weight loss, fevers, difficulty swallowing, and/or lumps under the skin near the affected organ.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Mesothelioma

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be difficult, as the signs and symptoms can be similar to those of more common illnesses. To diagnose mesothelioma, doctors typically use X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies of tissue from the affected organ.

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Treatment for mesothelioma usually includes a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery is generally used to remove tumors and relieve pain and other symptoms. Radiation and chemotherapy can be used to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Living with Mesothelioma

Living with mesothelioma can be challenging, but there are many available resources that can help. Patients should speak to their doctor, ask questions, and attend support groups to learn more about the disease and how to cope with their diagnosis.

Prevention and Early Detection of Mesothelioma

The most effective way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. Doctors recommend avoiding the mineral, and if it cannot be avoided, making sure to take appropriate safety precautions.

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Currently, there is no effective screening test for mesothelioma. However, routine check-ups are still important for early detection of the disease. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, you should speak to a doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing.


Mesothelioma, rare cancer, asbestos exposure, chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing, hoarseness, anemia, fatigue, weight loss, fevers, difficulty swallowing, lumps, diagnosis, treatment, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, prevention, early detection.

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