Pleural Mesothelioma: A Rare Type Of Cancer


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About Pleural Mesothelioma (PM) LogoPleural mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the pleural membrane, or the thin lining covering the lungs. This deadly cancer affects thousands of people each year, causing respiratory distress and eventually death.

  • PM is caused by exposure to airborne asbestos and symptoms may take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure has occurred.
  • It has been called a “silent killer” due to its long latency and its tendency to be misdiagnosed in its early stages. PM symptoms are easily mistaken for other, less serious respiratory conditions such as pneumonia or the flu.

Asbestos: The Primary Cause

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that was used extensively in the 20th century for various construction and industrial applications, due to its superior strength and insulating properties.

However, asbestos is a fibrous material and asbestos fibers if inhaled, lodge in the delicate lung tissue and lead to a gradual build up of fluids, inflammation, scar tissue and damage.

Asbestos is now known to be a human carcinogen (toxic, cancer-causing agent), but millions of innocent people continue to be exposed in homes, the workplace and in public areas. Research studies estimate that approximately 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos each year, placing millions at risk for asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis and pleural mesothelioma.

It is of particular concern in India, since asbestos is still very widely used and most people are totally unaware of the potential health risks.


Symptoms may develop gradually and worsen overtime, as fluids build up in the lungs and cancerous cells spread. Patients are often unaware that they have the cancer until their symptoms are severe, which may be too late.

Early symptoms

  1. Persistent or dry cough
  2. Coughing up blood
  3. Difficulty breathing
  4. Chest pain
  5. Lumps on the skin of the chest
  6. Fatigue and weight loss

Early diagnosis improves prognosis and survival. So, if you have been exposed to asbestos over a period of time in your life, and have these early symptoms, it is crucial for you to obtain a definitive diagnosis after undergoing imaging tests and tissue biopsies.

Poor Recovery Outlook

Unfortunately, PM is a terminal cancer which currently has no proven cure. The average life expectancy for PM patients is 4-18 months after diagnosis, with a 5-year survival rate of approximately 10 percent.

While these statistics are very serious, some patients have continued to live for many years with the disease by undergoing certain personalised treatment options.

Treatment Options

Medical treatment generally consists of the mainstream approaches like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The primary goal is to improve the patient’s quality of life while he/she lives with and copes with the condition.

According to Nick Hare of “some patients have experienced prolonged survival with alternative treatments such as nutritional changes, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, herbal supplements and massage therapy. Alternative therapies often help to reduce pain, improve breathing symptoms and stimulate circulation in patients with the cancer.”

What You Can Do

If you have Pleural Mesothelioma or know someone who does:

  • We encourage you to look beyond the statistics and learn from those who have outlived the odds. Adopting a holistic and integrated approach to treatment can certainly improve quality of life and in some cases, may prolong life.
  • Please read / recommend the Holistic And Integrated Approaches To Cancer to understand how you can complement your medical treatment.
  • Please browse Pleural Mesothelioma Centre which provides a lot of excellent information, guidance and tips on various aspects of the disease

If you or someone you know has had prolonged asbestos exposure and/ or is exhibiting any of the early symptoms described above, please undergo the necessary diagnostic tests to rule out the possibility of Pleural mesothelioma.


Katie Broome is a writer and editor for, contributing both quality content and research to the site in order to increase awareness of this deadly and preventable disease. Katie has experience in medical and health writing for print and online media. She graduated summa cum laude from Rollins College with a bachelor’s degree in English.


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