What causes mesothelioma?

    Nearly every mesothelioma case is related to the inhalation of asbestos fibers. There are about 3,000 cases per year (mostly men over the age of 40) and there will be about 300,000 cases before 2030. The disease usually spreads rapidly through the mesothelial cells to the heart and abdominal organs. The life span is typically 24 months after diagnosis, but it depends on what stage the cancer is detected, the health of the patient and other factors.

    Although asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, it has a latency period after exposure that could last 15 to 50 years. This means that someone who worked in a factory with asbestos 40 years ago could be developing the disease now. Anyone who knows they were exposed to loose asbestos fibers should be tested regularly.

    Mesothelioma is an extremely deadly disease. The average survival time is about one year from date of diagnosis. About 20% of patients who find their cancer early and treat it aggressively will reach the five-year mark.

    If you have Mesothelioma, you were most likely exposed to asbestos. Many asbestos manufacturers and distributors knew for decades that asbestos was hazardous, yet made a business decision not to warn people of those hazards. As a result, you may have a right of recovery against those manufacturers, which can help defray the costs of treatment and provide compensation for your pain and suffering.

    Gross Appearance
    In their early stages, malignant mesotheliomas appear as multiple small nodules on the parietal or visceral pleura.With time, the nodules grow and may coalesce to form large plaques involving both layers of the pleura, encasing the lungs, and obliterating the pleural space.In the late stages of the disease there may be involvement of the chest wall, mediastinum, and diaphragm. The tumor itself is usually firm and white-yellow.Rarely does the tumor penetrate the lung parenchyma to a depth greater than 1 cm.

    Microscopic Features
    Mesotheliomas display a wide range of histologic features.The malignant cells may appear epithelial or mesenchymal, or show features of intermediate differentiation (biphasic).The architectural and cellular features may range from well differentiated to anaplastic.The well differentiated tumors can be recognized by their light microscopic appearance, while more poorly differentiated tumors necessitate immunohistochemical and ultrastructural studies to reveal their identity.Mesotheliomas are also separated into four histologic categories:epithelial (50%), sarcomatous (15-20%), biphasic (15-20%), and poorly differentiated or undifferentiated (15-20%).