Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is associated with breathing in asbestos fibres/dust – it is not lung cancer. It is accepted malignant mesothelioma may be contracted by having very little exposure to asbestos fibres. The number of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma not caused by being exposed to asbestos fibre/dust in the workplace, is increasing. People who as children cuddled their fathers who had brought home asbestos dust on their clothes, women who washed asbestos dust impregnated work clothes, home renovators and mechanics, and their family members are just some of the people who are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma, many years after being exposed. – It is generally accepted, whilst it varies, mesothelioma takes anywhere from 20 to 60 years from first exposure to asbestos fibres/dust, to diagnosis, with the average being between 30 to 50 years.
Malignant mesothelioma is a form of cancer (only known to be caused by asbestos) that develops from within the cells of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the protective lining that covers many of the human body’s internal organs. Mesothelium is a serous membrane that forms the lining of several body cavities: the pleura (thoracic cavity), peritoneum (abdominal cavity) and pericardium (heart sac). Mesothelioma develops on the outer, or inner side of the mesothelium; rarely does it attack the actual organ.
There are three main forms of malignant mesothelioma:
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour that develops in the ‘pleura’, a two layered serous membrane that is the outer lining of the lung and that is attached to the internal chest wall – this form of malignant mesothelioma accounts for 85-90% of diagnosed mesothelioma cases in Australia. It is important to understand, malignant pleural mesothelioma is not classed as lung cancer – they are totally different cancers;