What is it?

Malignant mesothelioma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the pleura (the thin layer of tissue that lines the chest cavity and covers the lungs) or the peritoneum (the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen and covers most of the organs in the abdomen). Malignant mesothelioma may also form in the heart or testicles, but this is rare. The most common cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma vary between patients and may include:
- Trouble breathing.
- Cough.
- Pain under the rib cage.
- Pain or swelling in the abdomen.
- Lumps in the abdomen.
- Constipation.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Feeling very tired.


Diagnosis is made through questioning and investigating medical history, list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Physical examination of the neck, oral cavity, chest, stomach, and maybe other systems to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. Another possible test includes:
- Biopsy – includes the insertion of a needle to the diseased area and extraction of a small sample for microscopic inspection.
- Chest X-ray, CT, MRI, or PET-scan – to look for metastases and define the lesion’s size.
- Blood testing.
- Laparoscopy – a surgical procedure to look at the organs inside the abdomen to check for signs of disease and take a biopsy by making small cuts in the abdomen wall and inserting a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube).
If a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis is established, more tests would be conducted to determine the disease’s type and stage (stages I to IV).


Different types of treatment are available for patients with mesothelioma. They vary depending on the type and stage of cancer and may include:
- Surgery.
- Radiation therapy - a treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- Chemotherapy - a treatment that uses drugs to stop cancer cells’ growth, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
- Targeted therapy - a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells.
- Immunotherapy - a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or biologic therapy.
- A combination of the above.
The choice of treatment depends on the patient’s desire and the tumor’s specific stage and area.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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