Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs, known as the mesothelium. The most common areas affected are the lining of the lungs and chest wall. In less common cases, the lining of the abdomen and on rare occasions, the sac surrounding the heart, or the testes may be affected. More than 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos; the greater the exposure, the greater the risk. The time lag between exposure and onset of the cancer is generally about 40 years.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to fluid around the lungs, a swollen abdomen, chest wall pain, a cough, feeling tired, and weight loss. The symptoms typically appear and progress slowly, and although treatments are available for mesothelioma, for many people a cure is not possible.
Treatments offered for mesothelioma depend on the general health of the patient and certain aspects of the cancer, such as its stage and location. They generally include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Complementary, alternative and natural treatments can provide additional relief from symptoms or help patients after their primary treatment is delivered.