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Forty years of experience helping victims of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure drives our passion to solve problems and answer your questions.  We look forward to putting all of our energy and resources to work for you.

Additional links to other mesothelioma information.

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What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the lining of the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum), the heart (pericardium) or the testes (the tunica vaginalis). Most people with malignant mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos in some form, usually on the job.

Mesothelioma is a different cancer than lung cancer.

What are the four types of mesothelioma?

The four types of mesothelioma are:

  • Pleural mesothelioma: The most common type, pleural mesothelioma, occurs the lung  lining.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma:The second most common type, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: Rare, pericardial mesothelioma attacks the lining surrounding the heart.
  • Testicular mesothelioma: The most rare, estimated to have occurred only 100 times in the United States; occurs in the lining of the testes.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

The symptoms of the more common forms of malignant mesothelioma include:

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Fluid on the lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Painful cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Abdomen or back pain or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen

Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

There is no recognized set of symptoms for testicular mesothelioma, although lumps and swelling are often observed.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should see a doctor. The doctor will start by x-raying the chest or abdomen. If abnormality is observed the doctor may either conduct a thoracoscopy of the lung or a peritoneoscopy of the abdomen. Both procedures involve inserting an instrument into the organ to inspect and gather tissue. Local or general anesthesia will be offered, depending on the doctor’s practice. Any abnormal tissue will be biopsied and sent to a pathologist to determine if cancer is present.

How is mesothelioma treated?

Depending on your age, your health, the type of mesothelioma and the stage at which it is diagnosed, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgical removal of the tumor, or a combination of all three.

Are there doctors who specialize in treating mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an extremely rare condition and it can be difficult to find physicians who specialize in treating patients suffering from it. The following facilities and doctors are highly regarded for their treatment and research of mesothelioma:

What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis can be found in two different parts of the lung – the pleura, which is a layer of tissue that lines the outside the lungs, and the parenchyma (Puh-REN-kih-muh), the lung tissue itself.  When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they get stuck in both parts of the lungs, embedding themselves permanently.  Once this happens, both the pleura and parenchyma develop scarring.  This scarring is known as “pleural asbestosis,” or “pleural plaques,” when it occurs in the pleura – the lung lining, and “parenchymal asbestosis” when it occurs in the parenchyma, or actual lung tissue, itself.  It is not uncommon for an individual with asbestos exposure to suffer from both forms of asbestosis.  Pleural asbestosis, however, is often called the hallmark of asbestos exposure; proof of significant asbestos exposure over many years.  Unlike parenchymal asbestosis, however, pleural asbestosis usually does not cause physical symptoms.

As asbestosis progresses, the increasingly scarred lungs become stiff and difficult to move during breathing. A person with asbestosis gasps for air into lungs that cannot move to take in oxygen and move out carbon dioxide.

What other diseases/cancers are caused by asbestos exposure?

The only known cause of asbestosis and mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Breathing or swallowing asbestos may contribute to the development of many gastrointestinal cancers, including throat, laryngeal, colon, stomach, rectum, and lung cancer.

    How can I protect my health if I’ve been exposed to asbestos?

    There is currently no medical treatment to remove asbestos from the body. However, you can take the following steps to protect your health:

    1. Stop smoking, or continue to be a non-smoker. Smoking and asbestos have a synergistic effect in the lungs, meaning they multiply your cancer risk beyond what it would be if you only suffered asbestos exposure or only smoked.  If you have both asbestos exposure and are a smoker, your chances of developing lung cancer are many times greater than if you did either one alone. Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society on how to quit smoking.
    2. Tell your doctor you’ve been exposed to asbestos, so that your doctor knows to look for signs of asbestos disease.
    3. Get regular checkups. Your doctor will be able to offer you more treatment options the earlier any asbestos disease is diagnosed.