Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer found rarely, in which malignant cancerous cells develop and grow in the lining of the lungs called pleura, or in the lining of the abdomen cavity called peritoneum, or lining that surrounds the heart called pericardium.
Out of the three types of mesothelioma pleural mesothelioma is the most common. This occurs when the lining of the lungs is affected by asbestos fibers and malignant cancer cells start to grow. In cases of peritoneal mesothelioma the same thing happens in the lining of abdominal cavity. Pericardium mesothelioma happens due to development of malignant cancer cells in the lining casing the heart.
Studies show that patients having malignant mesothelioma have had asbestos exposure in their work places or their household surroundings. In such environments they breathe in asbestos dust unknowingly. These tiny asbestos fibers are then transported to various organs of the body and disturb the functioning of the tissues of the linings of these organs. Even a little exposure to asbestos can cause the disease.
The diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is a little difficult as there are no peculiar symptoms for the problem and most often the symptoms are taken lightly mistaking them for some other general problems. The worst part of the disease is that it takes very long (nearly 30 to 40 years or more) for the symptoms of the disease to show and by the time they start to show the cancer has already grown big.
Life expectancy of malignant mesothelioma patients depends completely upon the stage of the cancer that it has been diagnosed at. Depending upon the cancer stage doctors may suggest any one or a combination of two treatment procedures because only removing the tumor is no guarantee that it will not develop again. In most cases removal of the tumor along with chemotherapy or radio therapy is suggested. This way firstly the tumor is taken out of the organ and then the affected area is given radio therapy to burn any remaining cancer cells there. Patients having malignant mesothelioma at the last stage may be suggested for palliative treatment; only as at this stage life expectancy is extremely less.