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Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer. It involves the cells that line an organ, usually the lungs, abdominal organs, and heart—known as the mesothelium. In the most common form of mesothelioma, tumors form on the sac that lines the chest cavity and protects the lungs. Most people who have mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos at work.

Working with asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a group of minerals that has been used widely in the U.S. since the 1940s. It is used in cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation, among other products. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, people can breathe them in or swallow them. Those particles can cause several cancers, including mesothelioma. Shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople are at higher risk for mesothelioma. It may take 30-50 years after someone is exposed to asbestos before any symptoms of mesothelioma appear.

Source: American Lung Association

What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Symptoms can vary depending on which organ is involved but can include:
• Shortness of breath
• Persistent cough
• Pain under the rib cage
• Weight loss
• Abdominal pain and swelling
• Fever
• Anemia
• Problems with blood clotting

How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
• Complete physical exam, including lung function tests, lung X-ray, blood tests
• CT scan or MRI, which give detailed pictures of tissues & organs inside the body
• Biopsy - surgery to remove a tissue sample that is studied by a specialist (pathologist)

How is Mesothelioma Treated?
Like most cancers, treatment can vary depending on what stage the cancer is in (how far it has progressed) and where it is located, as well as the patient's overall health and age. Treatment can include:
• Surgery to remove tumors
• Radiation • Chemotherapy
• A combination of the above
• Removal of fluid build-up from the chest or abdomen (to relieve pain and other symptoms)

Researchers are testing new treatments for mesothelioma. Some treatments are in the final stage of research—clinical trials. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ask your doctor about clinical trials taking place near you, or contact the National Cancer Institute.

Source: American Lung Association

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