Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common type of mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, three out of four cases of mesothelioma are of this variety. While pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this disease, it’s still relatively rare – only about 1,500 to 2,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.1
Scientists have linked pleural mesothelioma to the mineral asbestos. In fact, about 70-80 percent of all mesothelioma cases are patients who’ve had a history of asbestos exposure at work.2 When asbestos particles are inhaled and get trapped in the lining or “pleura” of the lung, they can react with the pleura’s mesothelial cells, and cause small cancerous tumors. These tumors then start to spread and thicken, eventually overtaking the lung.
Because symptoms often don’t surface until 20 or 40 years after initial asbestos exposure, most pleural mesothelioma cases go undiagnosed until they reach their final stages. When symptoms do finally emerge, they often lead to a misdiagnosis since they are common to so many other diseases. These symptoms can include:
When symptoms persist, doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose pleural mesothelioma including:
Since pleural mesothelioma is often not diagnosed until it has spread across the entire pleura, it can be difficult to treat. The four treatment options usually presented to pleural mesothelioma patients are:
For a more detailed discussion of treatment options, visit the mesothelioma treatment page.
See related mesothelioma topics: