A mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the cells that make up the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the lining or membrane that covers and protects various internal organs of the body. The mesothelium is composed of two layers of specialized cells known as mesothelial cells. One layer directly surrounds an organ; the other forms a protective sac around thoracic and peritoneal organs.
The most common form of mesothelioma affects the pleura, which is the membrane or sac that lines the lungs and chest cavity. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.
Mesothelioma doesn’t include a form of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs in the chest and is sometimes called benign mesothelioma or solitary fibrous tumor.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until up to 30 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.
However, after symptoms become apparent, mesothelioma may rapidly progress to cause life-threatening complications.
In 2015, the fatality rate for mesothelioma in the United States (U.S.) was 10.93 per million people. Only 9 percent of those diagnosed with mesothelioma live longer than 5 years. The term “cancer” refers to a group of diseases characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled cellular growth (e.g., mesothelial cells) that invades surrounding tissues and may spread (metastasize) to distant bodily tissues or organs via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, or other means.
Different forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, may be classified based upon the cell type involved, the specific nature of the malignancy, the tissues or organs affected, and the disease’s clinical course. Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending upon the location, type, and stage of cancer.
Mesothelioma Health Resources
Approximately 70 to 90% of cases of mesothelioma result from exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until up to 30 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. However, after symptoms become apparent, mesothelioma may rapidly progress to cause life-threatening complications.
American Cancer Society, Inc.
250 Williams NW St
Atlanta, GA 30303
American Lung Association
1301 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Blvd Suite 300
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
PMP Pals’ Network
P.O. Box 6484
Salinas, CA 93912
Canadian Cancer Society
55 St. Clair Avenue West Suite 500
Toronto, M4V 2Y7
Cancer Care, Inc.
275 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Inc.
1317 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Rare Cancer Alliance
1649 North Pacana Way
Green Valley, AZ 85614
Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
1525 Aviation Boulevard Suite 318
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Friends of Cancer Research
1800 M Street NW
Suite 1050 South
Washington, DC 22202
American Society of Clinical Oncology
2318 Mill Road Suite 800
Alexandria, VA 22314
1050 17th St NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Nigerian Cancer Society
No 26 Oluwunmi Crescent
Off Alex Ekwueme Way
Kado estate (by Kado Police Station)
Society of Oncology and Cancer Research of Nigeria (SOCRON)
102 Bashorun Road, Ashi, Ibadan.
P.O. Box 29822, Secretariat Post Office,
Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
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Mesothelioma Justice Network
1330 Boylston Street, Suite 400
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Tel: (888) 360-4215
Useful Cancer Links
For a Complete Report of Mesothelioma cancer links
This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature.
The information provided in this article report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.
This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD’s resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.
For additional information and assistance about rare disorders and mesothelioma and cancer resources, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; website: www.rarediseases.org or email: email@example.com
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