What is Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a very rare cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of our internal organs (mesothelium).

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and lethal form of cancer. Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not presently possible.

Most researchers and doctors divide mesothelioma into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected in the body. Mesothelioma most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type of cancer is called pleural malignant mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the human  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.


What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the cancer occurs.  For instance:

Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs, causes signs and symptoms that may include: 

  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Painful coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fatique


Peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in tissue in the abdomen, causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss


Other forms of mesothelioma

Signs and symptoms of other types of mesothelioma are unclear, since these forms of the disease are very rare. Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects tissue that surrounds the heart, can cause signs and symptoms such as breathing difficulty and chest pains. Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis, which affects tissue surrounding the testicles, may be first detected as swelling or a mass on a testicle.


What Are the Risk Factors?

Researchers Believe Asbestos May be the primary risk factor for mesothelioma.  Asbestos is a mineral that's found naturally in the environment.  Asbestos fibers are strong and resistant to heat, making them useful in a wide variety of applications, such as in insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring and many other products.

When asbestos is broken up, such as during the mining process or when removing asbestos insulation, dust may be created. If the dust is inhaled or swallowed, the asbestos fibers will settle in the lungs or in the stomach, where they can cause irritation that may lead to mesothelioma. Exactly how this happens isn't understood. It can take 30 to 40 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.

Most people with years of asbestos exposure never develop mesothelioma. And yet, others with very brief exposure develop the disease. This indicates that other factors may be involved in determining whether someone gets mesothelioma or doesn't. For instance, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk.


Veterans Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

During World War II the military began using products with asbestos in them. However, starting in the 1930s and continuing through the 1970s, the military used asbestos in almost all of their construction projects, maintenance and renovations. All transportation vehicles used by the military also contained asbestos.


Where Was Asbestos Used In the Military 

  • Brake and clutch pads on military Jeeps
  • Military Tanks
  • Electrical wiring insulation
  • Military aircrafts
  • Military equipment used for aircrafts
  • Barracks/Dormitories
  • Military Housing
  • Flooring
  • Drywalls
  • Insulation in military buildings
  • Plumbing
  • Boiler rooms on naval fleets


Veterans who built and maintained military warships were at risk due to the asbestos exposure. The pipe-fitting and boilers on military ships contained asbestos. Veterans who were not performing their duties in the ships' boiler rooms still dealt with the moving of the cargo. With the constant vibrations and simple corrosion over time, these invisible airborne asbestos fibers were easily inhaled by anyone who was aboard these ships during cargo movement.

Even groups of veterans who worked on or near renovations and demolitions had a high risk of asbestos exposure since most of the building materials the military used contained asbestos in one way or another, and were being demolished, removed or renovated.


See your VSO for more details about mesothelioma.

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Mesothelioma Victims Center's 

"If you are a US Navy Veteran who was exposed to asbestos while serving in the US Navy, and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or you are their family members please call us at 866-714-6466, so you really do get instant access to the nation's best mesothelioma compensation attorneys. All we ask is you compare the accomplishments related to compensation settlements with the nation's most skilled mesothelioma attorney's." 

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