Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body's internal organs, known as the mesothelium.
There are three recognized types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for roughly 70% of cases, and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum and pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
An individual may be at risk to develop mesothelioma if he or she was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or at home. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and the inhalation of asbestos particles. In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred.
Those with a past asbestos exposure history experiencing symptoms should consult a physician with experience in accurately diagnosing mesothelioma. The earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be caught at an early stage. At earlier stages of mesothelioma progression, more treatment options are available and oftentimes a better prognosis is given.
In 2006, at the age of 36, Heather Von St. James gave birth to her daughter, Lily Rose. Just three months later, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma–startling news for someone so young. Heather had been exposed to asbestos second-hand as a child when her father would return home from work with his clothing covered in asbestos dust. Heather often wore his coat, and in the process she unwittingly breathed in the fibers. With strong faith, support from a host of family and friends, and a vibrant sense of humor, Heather emerged from a multi-month course of treatment healthy and cancer-free.
Mavis describes herself as an ordinary woman who married a shipwright. For 48 years, she washed her husband’s clothes when he came home from work, never knowing that the dust on his jacket was full of deadly asbestos. In June 2009, Mavis was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given only three months to live. Chemotherapy worked to extend her life for another year beyond that, but eventually the tumors started growing again. However, she was given a new lease on life through an immunotherapy trial, which has kept her cancer free much longer than expected.
Paul Cowley and his wife Claire could hardly believe it when they got the news that he had pleural mesothelioma. He was only 34, much younger than most people diagnosed with this rare and deadly form of cancer. Being so young, Paul was able to attempt an aggressive multimodal treatment regimen that included multiple avenues of attack against the cancer. Paul has beaten the odds by surviving beyond five years – a feat that only 9% of mesothelioma patients accomplish.
Paul Kraus has lived with peritoneal mesothelioma for nearly two decades. Born into a Nazi labor camp in Austria, he escaped as an infant with his mother and brother and soon emigrated with his family to Australia. Asbestos is prevalent in Australia, and as a result, the country suffers from some of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. Mr. Kraus was exposed as a youth on a summer job he took in 1962. The cancer was latent until 1997 at which time he was diagnosed and given just weeks to live.
Stephen Jay Gould
One of the most popular scientific authors of recent times, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, authored more than 20 books on a variety of scientific subjects, and published hundreds of essays in Natural History magazine. Gould lived for twenty years after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1982. After his diagnosis, he wrote an essay, The Median Isn’t the Message, about his reaction to the news and to the realization that half of all mesothelioma patients died within eight months of diagnosis. His essay has been cited as a source of comfort and hope by many cancer victims.
Once an individual has been diagnosed by a qualified mesothelioma doctor, the next step is to discuss mesothelioma treatment options and to develop a treatment plan. Recent scientific research has produced significant breakthroughs with regard to treatment protocols for mesothelioma patients and more options are now available for managing mesothelioma and supporting improved quality of life.
Newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients often have many questions for their doctors about the treatment options that would be most effective for them. Conventional treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Recently, chemotherapy drugs including Alimta® and Cisplatin have showed promising results in some patients.
Mesothelioma clinical trials as well as experimental treatments are other options that certain mesothelioma patients may be eligible to participate in. Our site features a comprehensive mesothelioma cancer treatment section that includes important information for patients and families. We've included resources on top mesothelioma experts such as Dr. David Sugarbaker and Dr. Raphael Bueno, as well as a comprehensive list of cancer centers where mesothelioma treatment takes place.
Beyond the conventional treatments for mesothelioma, certain alternative therapies may provide assistance to mesothelioma patients. Financial assistance is available to help offset mesothelioma treatment costs. We continually update this section of our site as new mesothelioma treatment information becomes available.
Asbestos Exposure and Cancer
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. Inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers may cause an inflammation of internal tissue and disrupt organ function which leads to the development of mesothelioma. Asbestos products were used extensively in the 20th century throughout the United States, in a wide variety of applications.
Asbestos companies continued to produce these products even after they were known to be hazardous to workers. These products were responsible for asbestos exposure sustained by the individuals who manufactured them as well as those who used them. Renovation and construction both at home and in schools also poses high risk areas for exposure. People also may have been exposed to asbestos-contaminated talc in baby powder
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Their Families
- Request a Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
- Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors
- Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center
Many workers were put at risk at commercial and industrial locations including refineries, power plants, steel mills, auto production facilities and large construction sites. Some of the occupations of workers at risk include electricians, plumbers, boilermakers, carpenters, mechanics, machinists and more. Additionally, if you lived with someone who was regularly exposed to asbestos and washed their clothes, you could be at risk for second hand asbestos exposure.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
Although rare, mesothelioma affects veterans from all branches of service: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. As mesothelioma has a long latency period and can remain dormant for several decades, veterans who served our country from 1930 through 1980 are just now being diagnosed with the disease.
Navy veterans who worked in navy shipyards and or served on our nation's aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines and warship from WWII through the Vietnam War were exposed to high concentrations of deadly asbestos and are at a high risk for developing asbestos-related cancer. Boiler rooms, engine rooms, sleeping quarters, and other areas of naval vessels were the most common areas where asbestos was present.
Some prominent shipyards where asbestos was prevalent include Brooklyn Navy Yard, Norfolk Navy Shipyard, Long Beach Naval Shipyard and Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Financial assistance and help with VA Benefits is available to veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Legal Help
Asbestos manufacturers and distributors made a concerted effort to hide the dangers of asbestos from the public, while at the same time profiting heavily from the sale and manufacture of harmful asbestos products. Those suffering from Mesothelioma can seek compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products by hiring a competent mesothelioma lawyer.
When deciding whether or not you should pursue your legal rights, you should think about the following three things. First, asbestos manufacturers had knowledge of the dangers of asbestos and knowingly put hardworking men and women at risk. Second, treatment for mesothelioma can be very expensive. Third, by exercising your legal rights, you can protect your loved ones in the future.
Have a Question about Mesothelioma? Ask Jennifer
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Meet Attorney Jennifer Lucarelli:
- Advocate for over 1,000 mesothelioma victims
- Knowledge of Navy shipyard asbestos exposure
- Well versed in the latest mesothelioma treatment options
- Experience with the VA disability claim filing process
Once you make the decision to pursue your rights, a competent asbestos attorney will maximize recovery from both viable and bankrupt asbestos defendants. Over 65 asbestos trusts have been established holding billions of dollars combined across them. These asbestos trust funds have been set aside to help compensate those workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer or other asbestos-related diseases.
Learn More about the Different Resources Available to You
Financial Help is Available
The legal process to compensate mesothelioma victims is not overly burdensome and should be strongly considered to help offset treatment costs and to provide financial security for loved ones.
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog
- Author: Heather Von St. James
- Date: 9/18/2018
Every once in a while, you get an email that makes you yell out loud. I received one of those emails a few weeks ago, and I literally screamed when I read it.
- Author: Dr. Raphael Bueno
- Date: 9/10/2018
In late August, David J. Sugarbaker, MD, a pioneer of mesothelioma treatment and research, a gifted surgeon, and an outstanding mentor, passed away from cancer at age 65. This was an unexpected sho...
Mesothelioma and Asbestos in the News
Despite an ongoing asbestos evaluation, the EPA recently suggested it might approve new uses of asbestos in manufacturing. Learn more at Mesothelioma.com.
Researchers tested the efficacy of surgery and a heated intraoperative chemotherapy solution for pleural mesothelioma. Find the results at Mesothelioma.com.