Mesothelioma

Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.

  • What is mesothelioma?

    Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, known as the mesothelium. Exposure to asbestos is the only recognised cause of this type of cancer, though factors such as smoking can increase the likelihood.

  • Types of mesothelioma

    There are three recognized types of mesothelioma.

    • Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for roughly 70% of cases, and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura.
    • Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum.
    • Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
  • Mesothelioma symptoms

    Symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain, however the disease is usually only detected after the cancer has spread. These cells often spread to other parts of the lung where they form a secondary cancer.

    At present, there is no screening method for mesothelioma. Detection usually occurs many years after exposure to asbestos has taken place, often as long as 30 years later.

  • Mesothelioma treatment

    There are three traditional kinds of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma:

    • Surgery (taking out the cancer).
    • Chemotherapy (using drugs to fight the cancer).
    • Radiation Therapy (using high-dose x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells).

    Often two or more of these are combined in the course of treatment.

Cancer Statistics

  • 824

    new cases are estimated to be diagnosed in 2018

  • 5.8%

    is the estimated five-year survival rate for mesothelioma

  • 75

    years is the median age of diagnosis

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REFERENCES

Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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