An Asbestos Victims' Guide: What is Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma?

This guide, designed to educate and empower victims of asbestos and mesothelioma, is comprised of a four-part series with each installment answering an important and common question asked by those affected by a devastating and tragically preventable illness. By understanding your disease, you will be able to better cope with the impact it has on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Being informed about mesothelioma-its presentation, causes, legality, etc.-will also help you make decisions in the coming months about how to best prepare yourself and your family for future you now face.

For many patients, the news that they have fallen victim to a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma comes as a great shock-leaving them with a seemingly endless list of questions about the disease itself and how they contracted it. Over the course of this series, we will address the following issues and concerns:

“What is malignant pleural mesothelioma?”

“What can I expect after a mesothelioma diagnosis?”

“What are the known mesothelioma causes?”


“What do I need to know about mesothelioma law?”

In this first installment, you’ll learn about the basics of mesothelioma-including its symptoms and clinical presentation, as well as an overview of its total impact on the U.S. population over the past several decades.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most commonly diagnosed form of a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Statistically, pleural mesothelioma is far more prevalent than other regional forms of the disease-which include peritoneal, pericardial and testicular-accounting for somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of cases in the U.S. overall. The total number of diagnosed cases of mesothelioma is around 3000 per year, though rates in United States have begun to decline after reaching a peak in the mid-1990s.

Clinical Presentation

Malignant pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, a delicate layer of tissue that encases the lungs and chest cavity. It serves as a protective barrier for the encased organs, appearing as a very thin, film-like membrane. When foreign matter-known to be almost exclusively comprised of asbestos fibers-is introduced into the body through either inhalation or ingestion, it becomes embedded in the mesothelial tissue. The resultant damage can ultimately result in the formation of tumors, which may then become producers of malignant (or cancerous) cells.


Mesothelioma symptoms are notoriously difficult to recognize, even for trained medical professionals, often leading to delayed diagnoses or misdiagnoses. Mesothelioma develops over several years-usually decades-and early warning signs of the disease frequently appear rather innocuously, mimicking the symptoms of much more common and far less serious conditions like the cold and flu virus.

Symptoms of malignant pleural mesothelioma are generally presented in the chest region, although they can also present atypically, and generally include one or more of the following:

  • -Shortness of breath
  • -Chest pain and pressure
  • -Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • -A persistently hoarse voice
  • -Reduced chest expansion upon inhaling
  • -Fatigue
  • -Weight loss
  • -Anemia

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with

Waste no time. Contact the Shrader & Associates today. Don’t
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