The tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart and other organs is called mesothelium, and mesothelioma is a rare but serious cancer of that tissue. It usually starts in the lungs, but can also start in the abdomen or other organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. It can take a long time--30 to 50 years--between asbestos exposure and diagnosis. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or all three.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of lung diseases, regardless of the cause. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Abnormal breathing pattern
  • The symptoms of occupational lung diseases may resemble other medical conditions or problems

Mesothelioma Causes

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was added in the past to certain products for strengthening, heat insulation and fire resistance. Most products today are not made with asbestos. Normally safe when combined with other materials, asbestos is hazardous to the lungs when the fibers become airborne (such as when a product deteriorates and crumbles).