Malignant pleural mesothelioma – commonly referred to as mesothelioma – is cancer affecting the pleura, a double-layer sac that covers each lobe of the lung and lines the undersurface of the chest wall, the diaphragm and mediastinum. The space between two pleura layers is called the pleural space.
There are approximately 2,000 - 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year in the United States. The vast majority of pleural mesothelioma cases are related to prior asbestos exposure – either through direct occupational and non-occupational exposures or via household exposures (living with somebody working with asbestos). The incidence varies between <1 case per 100,000 people in states with no asbestos industry to 2-3 cases per 100,000 people in states with an active or historic asbestos industry. However, these numbers likely underestimate the true incidence of mesothelioma.
People most often diagnosed with mesothelioma are in their 50s to 70s; males are affected more often than females (~4:1 male:female). This type of cancer can take 20-40 years to develop – what is referred to as the latency period from exposure (from asbestos, for example).
The highest worldwide use of asbestos in the 1990s through early 2000 was in China, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Iran, Brazil, Thailand and India. Therefore, patients from these countries who’ve relocated to America need to be aware of this condition.
- Breathing difficulties
- A long-lasting cough
- Pain under the rib cage
- Pain during breathing
- Weight loss and fatigue