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Mesothelioma

An Overview

Understanding the facts and information about mesothelioma and asbestos diseases.

As a leading mesothelioma law firm, Connelly Law have been working with victims of asbestos-related disease and mesothelioma for nearly twenty years. During this time, they have represented hundreds of citizens from across United States. They understand the grief and anguish caused by mesothelioma and are committed to finding both a cure to this horrifying disease, as well as helping individuals and families navigate the often confusing world of litigation and mesothelioma-related health services.

WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the layers of mesothelial cells, which form the thin lining (mesothelium) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart organs. The role of the mesothelium is to protect these organs by producing a lubricating fluid. The mesothelium found in the chest cavity is called the pleura and the mesothelium in the abdominal cavity is referred to as the peritoneum. Mesothelium that surrounds the heart is known as the pericardium. Almost all cases of mesothelioma are linked to exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma affects roughly 2,500-3,000 people in the United States per year. It can be difficult to diagnose mesothelioma because many of the mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions, including lung cancer, viral pneumonia, stomach cancer and heart disease. This disease is extremely threatening as it has a long latency period and can lie dormant for up to 50 years after exposure. There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. In addition, malignant mesotheliomas are divided into three main “cell types”. *Note: The time between first exposure to a cancer-causing agent and clinical recognition of the disease is called the latency period.

PLEURAL MESOTHELIOMA

Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma, which accounts for approximately 70% of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Pleural mesothelioma begins in the chest cavity and affects the lungs. The most common way for pleural mesothelioma to present itself is through pleural effusion. The initial symptoms that a patient will experience due to the pleural effusion are dyspnea (difficulty breathing), chest pain and/or persistent cough. Some patients do not show any symptoms at all. Less common symptoms include fever, night sweats and weight loss.

PERITONEAL MESOTHELIOMA

Peritoneal Mesothelioma is the second most common form of mesothelioma, and it begins in the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as “abdominal mesothelioma.” Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include pain or swelling in the abdomen, due to a build-up of fluid, nausea, weight loss, bowel obstruction, anemia or swelling of the feet.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

The rarest form of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, targets the heart. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma may include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations and chest pain, and it is found in about 5% of mesothelioma cases.

If you or someone you love believes you may be at risk for pericardial mesothelioma, contact your doctor or mesothelioma specialist immediately. Doctors will gather an asbestos exposure history from you, conduct an exam, and take tissue samples to determine your diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Cell Types

Malignant mesotheliomas are divided into three main cell types: epithelioid, sarcomatoid or fibrous and mixed type or biphasic.