Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lung or abdominal lining (the "mesothelia") that is associated with exposure to asbestos. The most common location is in the pleura, or lining of the lungs and chest cavity, but it also occurs in the pericardium and the peritoneum.
Most victims have worked in jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos in other ways: home renovation involving asbestos, washing the clothes of someone exposed to asbestos, or in one particularly appalling case, having asbestos dust vented from a mine directly onto their community.
Mesothelioma may not develop until 30-50 years after exposure to asbestos; the first symptoms, shortness of breath and chest pain due to accumulation of fluid in the pleural space, are often mistaken for other pulmonary diseases. Mesothelioma can only be conclusively diagnosed with X-ray, CT scan/MRI, and a pleural tap or similar syringe test, and then a biopsy. Peritoneal mesothelioma is marked by weight loss, abdominal swelling and pain, bowel obstruction, and anemia.
Treatment of mesothelioma currently is palliative in nature; patients have a median survival time of 6-12 months after diagnosis, and no successful treatment has yet been developed. Pemetrexed (Alimta) is the most promising chemotherapy drug developed for mesothelioma.
Because most mesothelioma results from the negligence of a company or organization to properly protect the public and its workers from asbestos, mesothelioma is a hotbed of lawsuits.
Web Resources On Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Book Resources On Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma by Bruce W. S. Robinson
Malignant Mesothelioma : Advances in Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Translational Therapies by Harvey I. Pass et al