Page Updated: May 21, 2019

Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer Guide

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lung and chest lining and/or the abdomen after prolonged exposure to asbestos. There are three different kinds of the disease, including pleural, peritoneal, or or pericardial mesothelioma.

The difference between the three is where the cancer is located. Pleural mesothelioma victims have cancerous cells in the lungs, pericardial mesothelioma patients have cancerous cells in the the pericardium area of the heart, and peritoneal mesothelioma patients have cancerous cells in the linings of the abdomen.

If you or a loved one suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for substantial compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more. 

lung area cancer illustration

Who is Affected?

As with other types of mesothelioma, malignant mesothelioma affects people who have worked around and have had prolonged exposure to asbestos. Although the ages and gender vary, victims are typically males around 60 years of age.

However, children and spouses exposed second-hand to asbestos run the risk of developing the disease. For example, if a wife washes her husband’s work clothes after he spent the day working around asbestos, small asbestos fibers may make their way into her lungs, causing the same damage as it would to someone who worked around asbestos for years.

Second-hand asbestos exposure is rare, but it’s important to remember that anyone who has had any contact with asbestos runs the risk of illness.


As aforementioned, the average age of malignant mesothelioma victims is around 60. This stems from the fact that it usually takes 20 to 50 years to properly diagnose the disease. As such, symptoms of mesothelioma usually don’t occur for decades after asbestos exposure, and usually start out as if the victim is suffering from a common cold or the flu.

Typical symptoms include the following:

  • Chest pain that starts out light and increases in severity over time
  • Cough and hacking
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe, including:

  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme bloating and abdominal pain
  • Swelling in the arms and face
  • Sweating profusely
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • Chest pain becomes much more pronounced

Testing for Mesothelioma

When testing for malignant mesothelioma, physicians will normally use chest x-rays and a chest CT, along with a biopsy in order to remove fluids and tissues in the lungs to check for asbestos fibers. Blood tests are also administered and a thorough medical background and work history are reviewed, including times you’ve been exposed to asbestos, will be completed.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), when a chest x-ray is performed, physicians look for unusual fluid buildup in the lungs as well as any calcium deposits and changes in the shape of the lungs. This is would be the first indication that the patient may have mesothelioma. Other tests must follow before a final diagnosis is made.

When performing a CT scan, physicians gather a more in-depth look at the lungs via cross-sectional images. This also allows them to pinpoint and determine the exact location of the cancer.

Biopsies are performed by inserting a long needle into the chest and directly into the tumorous area. Physicians then withdraw a sample of the tumorous cells and analyze more thoroughly. If asbestos fibers are found, a diagnosis of mesothelioma usually follows.


There’s no cure for malignant mesothelioma, and it’s also one of the most difficult forms of cancer to treat. If mesothelioma has moved into a malignant stage, the disease is so advanced that in most cases, it’s impossible to remove.

Therefore, surgery is usually not an option as this stage unless the patient has a mass tumor. Even then, other factors are taken into consideration such as the patient’s age and overall health. This is not to say that all patients with malignant mesothelioma are not candidates for surgery. Some people still qualify for different types of surgeries that aim to remove portions of the cancer as opposed to the entire tumor.

If the patient does not qualify for surgery, a combination of mesothelioma treatments can be used, such as chemotherapy and radiation. This works by reducing the symptoms and helping the victim live a better life with less pain.

If left untreated, victims typically pass away within nine months, according to the ACS. It’s imperative to follow up with medical treatment and assistance even though there is no cure, as it can help to prolong your life.

Your age, how long you were exposed to asbestos, general health, and response to treatments will also determine your survival rate. There is also no set rule to life expectancy as each person’s medical history and health are unique. While one person may survive up to a year, another person may go on to live another decade or more.

Side Effects of Mesothelioma Treatment

As with anyone who undergoes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation–regardless of the disease–side effects typically follow. Treatments affect different people in different ways, and not everyone will experience the same side effects.

The typical side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are as follows:

  • Hair thinning and hair loss
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Easily prone to infections
  • Bruising and bleeding easily
  • Bladder changes–urinating more frequently or less frequently
  • Body swelling
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Anemia
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Hard time remembering and concentrating
  • Nerve damage
  • Pain

Other less common side effects include internal organ damage, hearing loss, excessive bleeding, and blood clotting. All side effects typically stop within a few months after treatment is complete. However, if you have a high fever or just do not feel well, always consult with your physician as soon as possible.

Getting Legal Help

If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.