Mesothelioma is an incurable, asbestos-caused cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Patients with this cancer have a median life expectancy of 12-21 months, but treatments may extend survival. Since 1979, Sokolove Law has helped patients with mesothelioma navigate life after an unexpected and difficult diagnosis.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer. It originates in the linings (mesothelium) that surround certain organs in the body. This rare cancer affects around 3,000 Americans each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Types of Mesothelioma
What is mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lungs that primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. That’s the basic thing that people have to understand. It is a cancer to the lining of the lungs that is 99% of the time caused by exposure to asbestos.
Who gets Mesothelioma? We’re talking about people who worked in factories, worked around brake linings, worked in the military and found themselves in an unfortunate situation where the manufactures of asbestos put profits ahead of people, did not inform these workers of the dangers. People went to work, doing the right thing, and wound up catching an environmental disease that came about by the exposure to asbestos, when the manufactures knew about this and refused to inform the workers.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the lungs (pleura). It is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for roughly 75% of all cases.
“[Pleural] mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the chest. Many people think it might be lung cancer, but it actually isn’t, and it’s not caused by smoking. It’s caused by asbestos exposure.”
– Dr. Robert B. Cameron,
Pleural Mesothelioma Specialist
Pleural mesothelioma is categorized into stages that describe how far a patient’s cancer has progressed. By identifying the mesothelioma stage, doctors can make informed treatment decisions that make the most sense for the patient.
Pleural Mesothelioma Stages
Stage 1 of pleural mesothelioma is the earliest stage. Patients with stage 1 mesothelioma are usually eligible for curative surgery, as their tumors are still contained to the pleura.
In stage 2, the cancer begins to spread beyond the pleura. Patients with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma may still qualify for surgery.
The cancer remains on one side of the chest but is continuing to spread in stage 3. Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patients are usually no longer able to undergo surgery.
Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of pleural mesothelioma. By stage 4, the cancer has spread throughout the body through the lymph nodes. The focus of treatment becomes enhancing quality of life through palliative care.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Most Common Symptoms
- Chest pain
- Chronic Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Coughing up blood
- Fluid buildup in the chest wall (pleural effusions)
- Pain in the ribs, shoulder, & upper back
- Night sweats
If you’ve been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, or if you’re experiencing the symptoms above, reach out to our team of Patient Advocates for a free case review.
Peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), making up around 10-15% of all mesothelioma cases.
The median life expectancy for peritoneal mesothelioma patients is around 53 months with treatment.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Most Common Symptoms
- Abdominal distension (swelling)
- Pain in the abdomen
- Vomiting and nausea
- Weight loss
- Blood in vomit and/or stool
- Fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity (ascites)
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
Rare Types of Mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the lining of the heart (pericardium). It is one of the least common forms of mesothelioma, making up only 0.7% of all cases. The life expectancy of pericardial mesothelioma patients is approximately 6 months.
Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Heart palpitations (arrhythmia)
- Heart murmurs
- Irregular heartbeat
Testicular mesothelioma occurs within the lining of the testes (tunica vaginalis). It is one of the rarest forms of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1% of all cases. The median life expectancy of testicular mesothelioma is 23 months after surgery.
Testicular mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Inflammation or thickening of the testicular lining
- Swelling of the testicles
Mesothelioma Cell Types
Each cell type grows and spreads at a different rate, giving them a unique prognosis and treatment response.
Mesothelioma tumors are made up of 3 main cell types:
- 70% of mesothelioma cases
- Slow tumor growth
- Responds well to treatments
- Higher life expectancy
- 7-15% of mesothelioma cases
- Rapid tumor growth
- Responds poorly to treatments
- Lower life expectancy
- 10-20% of mesothelioma cases
- Mix of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells
- Life expectancy falls between other cell types
Exposure to asbestos is the only proven cause of mesothelioma. The U.S. military and many private industries capitalized on the usefulness of asbestos throughout the 1900s, using asbestos-containing products heavily.
Groups with a higher risk of asbestos exposure include:
- U.S. military veterans
- Loved ones of individuals exposed to asbestos
- Individuals living near an asbestos mine
The greater the exposure to asbestos fibers, the greater the chance of developing a devastating disease such as mesothelioma. Companies that sold asbestos products were aware of the risk factors of this mineral and deliberately hid the truth from the government and the public.
Recently Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?
You may be eligible for compensation. Get the help you deserve.
Early detection and diagnosis of mesothelioma are crucial to accessing and qualifying for curative treatments.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed through the following steps:
A cancer diagnosis is devastating — paying for treatment shouldn’t add to your worries. Contact Sokolove Law at (800) 647-3434 to see if you may qualify for compensation.
Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are nonspecific and common in many other illnesses. Further, it can take roughly 20-50 years for individuals to experience symptoms of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos.
These factors, and the sheer rarity of mesothelioma, tend to make diagnosing this type of cancer difficult.
People who think they may have mesothelioma should seek a second opinion from an experienced mesothelioma specialist. This reduces the chances of misdiagnosis and helps ensure effective treatment options will be available.
The most common mesothelioma cancer treatments are:
Specialists determine which mesothelioma treatment options make the most sense for the patient and create personalized treatment plans. These treatment strategies are based on a patient’s health information, prognosis, and personal wishes.
Doctors will often prescribe multiple types of treatments at once to increase their effectiveness.
Surgery is the most effective way to eliminate mesothelioma tumors. The purpose of surgery is to physically remove the tumors present in the patient.
Since surgery for mesothelioma is aggressive, it is usually only an option for patients in the early stages of the disease who are otherwise in good physical health.
Top surgeries for mesothelioma include:
Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
- Used for pleural mesothelioma
- Removal of entire diseased lung
- Median survival after surgery is 19 months
Pleurectomy with decortication (P/D)
- Used for pleural mesothelioma
- Tumor removed and patient keeps both lungs
- Median survival after surgery is 29 months
Cytoreduction with HIPEC
- Used for peritoneal mesothelioma
- Combines surgery with heated chemotherapy
- Survival after surgery is up to 7+ years
Surgery for mesothelioma is aggressive. It is usually only an option for patients in the early stages of the disease who are otherwise in good physical health, according to Mayo Clinic.
During chemotherapy, patients are given drugs that kill mesothelioma cancer cells. Patients typically receive several rounds of chemotherapy over the course of their treatment.
Chemotherapy may be used before, during, or after surgery. When it is used depends on the treatment plan. It may also be used to ease painful symptoms in patients who cannot undergo surgery.
Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy
With radiation therapy, patients are exposed to powerful rays of energy. The rays damage the DNA of mesothelioma cells, shrinking them or preventing them from multiplying.
Radiation therapy often has fewer side effects compared to surgery and chemotherapy. In some cases, its high-energy beams can damage healthy tissue along with tumors.
Clinical trials conduct cancer research for mesothelioma to determine whether new, cutting-edge therapies may help patients more than standard treatments.
Mesothelioma clinical trials are currently studying promising treatments including targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy.
Connecting with a specialized oncologist at a mesothelioma cancer center helps patients get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. These facilities have access to state-of-the-art equipment and employ the best mesothelioma doctors in the United States.
Our team can help you understand your medical options and find a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center near you. Learn More
Mesothelioma prognosis, which is the expected progression of the cancer, gives patients a general idea of what to expect after diagnosis and treatment. Since mesothelioma is often diagnosed after the cancer has spread, the majority of patients have a poor prognosis.
Prognosis takes into account both the life expectancy and survival rate for mesothelioma.
Average life expectancy with mesothelioma is:
1-year survival rate for mesothelioma is:
A mesothelioma patient’s prognosis is not final. Improving overall health and getting prompt treatment from a specialist have helped many patients far outlive their original prognosis.
Financial Assistance for Mesothelioma Victims
Most families do not expect a mesothelioma diagnosis and the high costs that come with treatment. These expenses can increase stress and cause further complications at a time when patients should be focusing on their health.
Fortunately, there are many potential options for financial help for mesothelioma cancer patients and their family members.
Families affected by mesothelioma may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit and receive compensation by working with Sokolove Law, a national law firm that specializes in asbestos cases.
Asbestos Trust Funds
There is an estimated $30+ Billion allocated to asbestos trust funds to make up for the irreparable damage caused by manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
Veterans who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during their military service may qualify for compensation and other benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“[Mesothelioma is] an expensive disease to treat. A lawsuit doesn’t bring back your loved one, or it certainly doesn’t take away what’s happening with the disease. But it allows you that flexibility that you can take this money, and you can pay for any treatment that your insurance company may not cover.”
– Mary Hesdorffer, NP,
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Sokolove Law Can Help You
We understand how physically, emotionally, and financially devastating it is when you or someone you love has been a victim of injustice. You are not alone.
The experienced mesothelioma lawyers at Sokolove Law are here to help. They can answer any questions you may have about mesothelioma lawsuits, asbestos trust funds, and VA benefits.
Don’t wait — request a free case review today.