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Managing Mesothelioma
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Managing Mesothelioma

According to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States.1,2 Mesothelioma is a rapidly progressing and often silent malignancy that is most often diagnosed at a clinical stage of regional or advanced metastatic disease.

There are 3 classifications of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural — cancer in the chest cavity
  • Peritoneal — cancer that starts in the abdomen. This classification is a form that represents between 10 to 20% of the mesotheliomas diagnosed
  • Pericardial — cancer in the cavity around the heart, the rarest form of mesothelioma

Risk factors
Exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor for malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are inhaled through the breathing passages and then travel to the lining of the lungs.

Signs & symptoms
As with many cancers, the early stages of malignant mesothelioma can be overlooked as many of the symptoms can be linked to other diseases as well. Symptoms can include pain in the lower back or side of the chest, chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, cough, fever, and weight loss.

Physicians use one or more methods to confirm the presence of mesothelioma and these include chest x-rays, CT, MRI, or PET scans.

Treatment options for malignant mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, and can also include a combination of these therapies.

If you'd like to learn more, please refer to one of our recommended mesthelioma resources.


1. American Cancer Society. How many people get mesothelioma? Available at:
Accessed January 19, 2007.
2. National Cancer Institute. Mesothelioma: questions and answers. Available at:
Accessed January 19, 2007.