What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is diagnosed in approximately 3,000 people each year. The disease is often described as cancer of the lung lining as it usually affects the pleura, which is the membrane that lines the chest cavity and the lungs. It also may affect the peritoneum, which is the lining of the abdominal (stomach) cavity. In rare situations it can affect the pericardium, which is the lining around the heart.

Although people exposed to asbestos for a long time or exposed to high levels of asbestos have an increased risk of developing malignant mesothelioma, people exposed for a very short time also can develop this disease. The latency period for mesothelioma is a minimum of 15 years (typically 20 to 40 years) after asbestos exposure. The average age at diagnosis is 50 to 70 years.

More men than women are affected due to the higher probability of more men working in industries that used asbestos than women. Three main types of malignant mesothelioma are recognized as epithelial, sarcomatoid and mixed. The epithelial type is the most common.

Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm speaks about what Mesothelioma is.