Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer | Treatments, Causes, Doctors

Malignant mesothelioma cancer.You can fight it.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that grows rapidly on the mesothelium—the thin protective lining of tissue surrounding the lungs, heart, and intestines.

With proper care and a willingness to fight, it’s possible to enjoy a decent quality of life despite the challenges this cancer poses. But first it is vital to know malignant mesothelioma warnings and treatment options.

How to Live Longer with Malignant Mesothelioma

See a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma.

A family physician or even a general oncologist may not have the expertise it takes to quickly diagnose the disease and put together the best possible treatment plan.

Get treatment at a hospital/clinic with a mesothelioma focus.

Many hospitals have a cancer center. But not all of them have a cancer center set up to deal with the special care that mesothelioma requires. Look for one oriented toward meso care.

Find out about clinical trials testing cutting-edge mesothelioma treatments.

Promising new mesothelioma therapies go through testing on a select group of volunteers before becoming widely available. The volunteers gain access to potential breakthroughs years in advance.

Trio of People
Mesothelioma Cases in the U.S. are Declining

Number of new cases annually

2,600 to 3,000

Who gets Mesothelioma?

Average age of a person at time of mesothelioma diagnostics: 72.







How Mesothelioma Begins, Grows, and Spreads

  1. Particles of asbestos are inhaled or swallowed.
  2. The asbestos causes a few cells on the mesothelium to turn cancerous.
  3. The cancerous cells cause neighboring healthy cells to also become cancerous.
  4. More and more cells mutate and eventually become a tumor mass.
  5. Tumor cells break free and replant themselves elsewhere in the body.

Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma

Until the early 1970s, asbestos was used to insulate and fireproof all types of products and places:

  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Businesses
  • Theaters
  • Hospitals
  • Factories
  • Highways
  • Planes
  • Ships
  • Vehicles
  • Blast furnaces
  • Hair dryers
  • Toasters
  • Brick mortar
  • Electrical wiring
  • Plumbing pipes and connectors
  • Welding gloves, aprons, and protective clothing
  • Paint
  • Printing presses
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Automobile and truck brake pads
  • Much, much more…
How Asbestos Particles Get Inside People

Tiny fibers of asbestos can flake off if a product containing the mineral is hammered, sawed, drilled, sanded, scraped, banged, or in any other way disturbed.

Dislodged fibers then go into the air. A person walking through an area filled with floating asbestos particles can inadvertently inhale or swallow some.
The fibers become trapped in the lungs (or intestines, if swallowed rather than inhaled).

Over the course of 20 to 50 years or longer, the trapped fibers cause the cells of the mesothelium to turn into cancer. No one yet fully understands the process by which this happens.

Four Types of Mesothelioma

Each type is named for its point of origin.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Begins on the lining surrounding the lungs. Most common type.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Starts on the lining between intestines and abdominal cavity.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Onset is the lining around the heart. A comparatively rare type of the disease.

Testicular Mesothelioma

Rarest of all mesotheliomas. Begins on the lining around the testes.

Mesothelioma Survival is Determined in Part by Cell Characteristics

Pleural mesothelioma and all other types of this cancer consist of cells that fall into one of three groups.


This class of cell grows slower and responds best to treatment. Most common class.


Grows fastest and respond poorest to treatment. Least common class.


A mix of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Grows slower and responds better than sarcomatoid, but faster and with less response to treatment than epithelioid.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can be hard to diagnose by symptoms alone because they resemble those of many other conditions.

Common symptoms of both pleural and pericardial mesothelioma are:
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Pain in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden, severe weight loss
Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are:
  • Swelling and pain in the area of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Sudden, severe weight loss

Testing for Mesothelioma

There are three main types of tests your doctor may want to order for you.

Imaging Exams
  • X-Ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Computer Tomography (CT Scanning)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scanning)
  • PET – CT
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Commonly performed using minimally invasive needle aspiration to extract a small sample of the mass for analysis.


Draining of fluid from the chest cavity can reveal the presence of free-floating cancer cells.

Mesothelioma Staging & Treatments (6 general options)

Staging helps doctors know how to strategize treatment.

Stage 1

Mesothelioma just started.

Stage 2

Mesothelioma growing.

Stage 3

Mesothelioma spreading.

Stage 4

Mesothelioma far advanced.

The Six Treatment Options Are:

Mesothelioma researchers have discovered that the most effective treatment strategy is to incorporate two or more of these options.

That’s not always possible, though. For example, in Stage I, it may be appropriate to administer chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before it is removed surgically and then follow up afterward with more chemotherapy to knock down any cancer cells that escaped the knife. However, in Stage IV, surgery may not be advisable because the tumors are in too many places, leaving perhaps just the chemotherapy option.

  1. Surgery
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Radiation
  4. Immunotherapy
  5. Experimental Therapies
  6. Complementary Medicine
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Pleural Mesothelioma Warning Signs & Treatments

Chronic Coughing
Chronic Coughing
Difficulty Swallowing
Difficulty Swallowing
Out of Breath
Out of Breath
Big Weight Loss
Big Weight Loss
Mesothelioma Research: The Quest for Future Hope

Mesothelioma doctors are not satisfied that the therapies currently available are as good as they could be.

That’s why scientists from top universities and medical centers across the U.S. and around the world are devoting themselves to finding new and better treatments.

Improved existing therapies:
  • Better Surgical Techniques
  • Better-tolerated Chemotherapy
  • Better-targeted Radiation
Innovative new therapies:
  • Molecular-targeted drugs
  • Checkpoint inhibitors
  • Nanobot payload delivery systems
Immunologic advances:
  • Immune system strengtheners
  • Mesothelioma-targeted viruses
  • Jamming the cancer cells’ defenses

Top Mesothelioma Doctors

The best doctors offer the best hope of mesothelioma survival. Here are five of themost respected names in mesothelioma treatment.

Dr. Harvey Pass
Dr. Harvey Pass

Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, Dr. Harvey Pass is considered an expert in the treatment of a number of malignant lung diseases, including mesothelioma. Formerly with the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Dr. Raphael Bueno
Dr. Raphael Bueno

Chief of Thoracic Surgery and vice chair of surgery for cancer and translational research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Raphael Bueno is a surgical oncologist whose work revolves around discovering innovative mechanisms to both detect and treat thoracic cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Dr Anne Tsao
Dr. Anne Tsao

Dr. Anne Tsao is the mesothelioma program director at the M.D. Anderson Center at the University of Texas, where she specializes in treating mesothelioma and other thoracic cancers. A graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Tsao is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine.

Dr. Raja M. Flores
Dr. Raja M. Flores

Currently chief of thoracic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Flores is a graduate of New York University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed numerous internships and residencies including a thoracic oncology clinical research fellowship and residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker
Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, director of the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Program at the Washington Cancer Institute, is an expert in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma using a combination of cytoreductive surgery with intraperitoneal and systemic chemotherapy.

Dr. Claire Verschraegen
Dr. Claire Verschraegen

A native of Belgium and currently a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the Vermont Cancer Center, Dr. Claire Verschraegen is a leading expert in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Compensation for Mesothelioma May be Available

Lawsuit Verdict

Mesothelioma patients (or their surviving spouse/children) may bring a lawsuit against the company or companies believed at fault for exposure to asbestos. A favorable verdict can be worth potentially millions of dollars.

Lawsuit Settlement

Most mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved before they ever get to the courtroom. This is achieved through the process of settlement in which the two sides negotiate an end to the litigation by agreeing on the amount of compensation to be paid. Find a mesothelioma lawyer to review your case.

Trust Fund Claim

Some asbestos defendants cannot be sued. That is because they declared bankruptcy. However, they are not necessarily off the hook. Federal law compelled them to create trust funds out of which which mesothelioma patients could be compensated.

Other Sources

Mesothelioma patients may be eligible for payments through the federal Social Security/Medicare system or their state’s Medicaid program. Cashing-in a long-term disability insurance policy is another possible source of payments.

Veterans Administration

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces who were exposed to asbestos during a tour of duty and later developed mesothelioma may qualify for several types of payments after completing an application process. Click here for more details.

Get a FREE Case Review

The size of compensation obtainable depends in part on the strength of the case. It also depends on the knowledge, skill, and experience of the attorney representing the patient. Click here to talk to a mesothelioma-focused lawyer.

Chris Layloff

About the author…

Chris T. Layloff was raised in the steel town of Granite City, Illinois. He graduated from Saint Louis University with a dual-degree in finance and economics in 2005, and received his J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2008.

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