The Basic Facts About Malignant Mesothelioma: Asbestos Cancer with Three Types; Diagnosis and Staging Information; General Medical Treatment Options

Malignant mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelium, is a disease in which cells in the mesothelium become abnormal and divide uncontrollably. The abnormal cells can metastasize and spread to nearby tissues and organs, resulting in malignant mesothelioma.

In more detail, mesothelioma affects the lining or covering of the affected body part — such as (1) the lung, if it is pleural mesothelioma, or (2) the abdomen, if it is peritoneal mesothelioma, or (3) the heart, if it is pericardial mesothelioma. Each of these three different types of mesothelioma will sometimes be called just “meso”, for short.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year, but the incidence rates are increasing. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women, and a major risk factor is a history of occupational exposure to asbestos. The risk of developing mesothelioma increases with heavier asbestos exposure, but there have been cases of individuals with relatively minimal asbestos dust exposure many years ago later developing mesothelioma. Family members of asbestos workers are also at increased risk for developing mesothelioma if exposed to asbestos dust brought home on clothing.

For more about the basic facts of malignant mesothelioma, see:


 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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