Mesothelioma the medical name for cancer of the pleura (the lining of the lung and chest cavity) or cancer of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen). It is usually caused by prolonged or persistent exposure to asbestos.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until between twenty and fifty years after exposure, which explains why so many new cases of this form of cancer are coming to light now, even though the dangers of asbestos were realized long ago and measures taken to reduce the risk of the disease.
As with many forms of cancer, the mesothelioma tumor can spread rapidly, often infecting the opposite pleura, and continuing on to other internal organs. Symptoms include a shortness of breath, chest pains, coughing, and loss of weight.
Testing can be carried out initially by X-Ray, with a Thoric CT and open lung biopsy being used to confirm the findings of the early tests. If it is diagnosed early enough, the tumor can be surgically removed, and with follow-up chemotherapy and radiation treatment, full recovery is often possible.
However, in more advanced cases, cure is usually not possible. In such cases, chemotherapy and radiation treatment can be used alongside other pain relief treatments, to ease the symptoms. Where cure is not possible, the average survival time is between four and eighteen months, depending on the stage of the tumor and the general health of the patient.