Mesothelioma is a rare and serious cancer that affects the mesothelium, or lining, of various organs. You are at risk of developing this cancer if you have been exposed to asbestos. There is a 20-40 year latency between exposure and cancer development. Every year, there are approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the United States.
Mesothelioma is a unique disease that affects the lining of either the lung or the lining of the abdominal cavity. Mesothelial cells are a very special kind of cell. The way we’re made, if we normally inhale and exhale, we generally aren’t supposed to feel pain; if we did not have the mesothelial lining, we would. What would happen is our lungs would rub against our rib cage, but because of this lining we’ve got, it’s like an oily Saran wrap; it allows the lung to increase and expand, and decrease, and it allows this movement without it rubbing the rib cage.
Now, that lining, those cells, are the ones that become cancerous in mesothelioma, and it makes it a very difficult disease to treat. I told you that the mesothelial cells, that this lining is see-through like Saran wrap; that’s because it doesn’t really have a blood supply to it. Blood supply makes tissue: red, blue, and other things; this is one where, as a result of no blood supply, it’s really difficult to treat. You can’t really take chemicals like you can for chemotherapy, in a normal way, to treat this. So mesothelioma is a very difficult disease to find any relief from, and it’s a disease that’s not really affecting the lung itself directly, but is doing so indirectly by affecting the lining of the lung or the lining of the abdominal cavity.
approximate number of new mesothelioma cases per year in the U.S.
people in the U.S. are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives
of all cases are pleural mesothelioma which occurs in the lining of the lungs
latency period between asbestos exposure and potential development of mesothelioma