Mesothelioma can be defined as a type of cancerous condition, where the proliferation of cancer cells happen on the thin lining of the tissue that covers some of the internal organs. It is quite an aggressive form of cancer and in some cases, an absolute cure from this condition is also not possible. The doctors usually divide mesothelioma into different types of cancer depending upon the organ or the part of the body it is affecting. If mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, it is called pleural mesothelioma, and if it affects the lining of the tummy, it is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Apart from the lungs and abdomen, the cancerous cells can also affect the heart or testicles. Also Read: Lung Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment


Just like other forms of cancer, the exact cause of Mesothelioma is yet unknown. However, it usually happens when there are certain changes or mutation in the cellular material, i.e. the DNA, that invariably make the cells grow abnormally without dying and causing them to bundle up leading to tumorous growths. But recent researches resurface that an overexposure to asbestos, a group of minerals made out of microscopic fibres that were previously widely used in construction. Usually, mesothelioma gradually develops after a person is exposed to the asbestos for 20 years.

Although after asbestos was banned in the year 1999, the risk of exposure came down, yet some older buildings still have this harmful material.


Mesothelioma is categorised depending upon the part it is affecting:

Pleural mesothelioma: A type of cancer that usually affects the tissue surrounding the lungs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma: This form of mesothelioma occurs in the tissue of the abdomen.

Pericardial mesothelioma: Mesothelioma affecting the peritoneum layer of the heart.

Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis: Form of mesothelioma that affects the tissue layer surrounding the testicles.

Risk Factors

Some causative factors that increase the chances of mesothelioma include:

Personal History: If a person has been directly exposed to asbestos at home or while at work, he or she is more at risk of getting this form of cancer.

Family History: People who have parents, siblings or other close family members suffering from this form of cancer, are prone to mesothelioma at the later stage. 

Living Conditions: People who work at places where asbestos is used may carry these micro-fibres on their skin or clothing. If a family member or person staying is indirectly exposed to asbestos over many years, the risk of mesothelioma may increase. It is needed for the person who is working with asbestos to take daily showers and change of clothes before leaving work.

Radiation Therapy: Even radiation therapy used for treating a cancer of the chest may increase the risk of mesothelioma.

Type Of Occupation: Asbestos miners, electricians, plumbers, shipyard workers, demolition workers, brake mechanics, pipe-fitters, insulators, home remodelers and certain military personnel involved with handling asbestos are at a higher risk of contracting this type of cancer.


The common signs and symptoms develop gradually after decades of exposure to asbestos. These symptoms depend on the part the body it affects and is usually characterised by:

Pleural Mesothelioma: 

  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing as in the case of laryngitis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest
  • Fatigue 
  • High temperatures accompanied with sweating, especially at night
  • Unexplained weight loss

Peritoneal Mesothelioma: 

Other forms of mesothelioma are quite rare and may include symptoms like:

Pericardial mesothelioma:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue

Mesothelioma of Tunica Vaginalis:

  • Swelling around the testicles
  • Mass of tissue around the testicles
  • Pain 
  • Fatigue


If the Mesothelioma is not treated on time, the symptoms may increase and cancer may spread to more organs. This spread is usually characterised by the following symptoms including:

Diagnosis And Treatment

If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical checkup to look for any lumps or other unusual signs. The doctor may also perform some diagnostics including:

  • Fluid drainage
  • Imaging techniques like X-ray, CT-scan, MRI-scan and PET-scan
  • Thoracoscopy or Laparoscopy
  • Biopsy


The treatment of mesothelioma usually depends upon the severity, extent and form of cancer. It includes:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy