Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelium: a thin lining found on several of the body’s cavities and internal organs. Mesothelioma may occur wherever this membrane is present, including the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, abdominal cavity, heart cavity and the outer surface of most internal organs. It’s primarily associated with asbestos exposure as the irritation created by microscopic airborne asbestos particles can create the change in cells which causes mesothelioma.
Because these asbestos particles remain in the body after being inhaled, it may take years and even decades after initial exposure for mesothelioma to develop. There is no known threshold of asbestos exposure that is safe and even brief exposures to asbestos fibers has been found to cause mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases.
Malignant mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose early as the symptoms are often subtle or attributable to more common, everyday ailments. The most common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
pleurisy, or inflammation of the tissues lining the lungs
recurrent build-up of fluid in the lungs
shortness of breath