A type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of the internal organs (mesothelium).

  • An aggressive and deadly form of cancer.
    • Treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible.

Mesothelioma is divided into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected.

  • Pleural mesothelioma
    • Mesothelioma that most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura).
  • Rare types: Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.

Mesothelioma doesn’t include a form of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs in the chest and is sometimes called benign mesothelioma or solitary fibrous tumor.

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the cancer occurs.

Pleural mesothelioma causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

Peritoneal mesothelioma causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Other forms:

  • Signs and symptoms of other types of mesothelioma are unclear.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma
    • breathing difficulty and chest pains
  • Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis
    • swelling or a mass on a testicle


  • Physician may do/request:
    • History & Physical Exam
  • Other additional tests such as:
    • Chest X-ray
    • Abdominal or chest Computerized tomography (CT) scan
    • MRI
    • PET scan
    • Biopsy
      • Fine-needle aspiration
      • Thoracoscopy
      • Laparoscopy
      • Thoracotomy
      • Laparotomy


  • Stage I mesothelioma
    • considered localized cancer, meaning it’s limited to one portion of the lining of the chest.
  • Stage II mesothelioma
    • spread beyond the lining of the chest to the diaphragm or to a lung.
  • Stage III mesothelioma
    • spread to other structures within the chest and may involve nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV mesothelioma
    • advanced cancer that has spread more extensively within the chest. Stage IV may also indicate that mesothelioma has spread to distant areas of the body, such as the brain, liver and lymph nodes elsewhere in the chest.



  • Often is an aggressive disease and for most people a cure isn’t possible
  • Treatment options:
    • Surgery
      • Surgery to decrease fluid buildup
      • Surgery to remove the tissue around the lungs or abdomen
      • Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible (debulking)
      • Surgery to remove a lung and the surrounding tissue
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation therapy
    • Alternative medicine/treatments:
      • Acupuncture
      • Breath training
      • Relaxation exercises
      • Sitting near a fan

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