Mesothelioma in lung lining diagram

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that starts in the protective linings of major organs in the area around the stomach and chest.

  • The most common type of mesothelioma (called malignant pleural mesothelioma) is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs
  • Most patients are diagnosed when they are 65 years of age or older

Just because mesothelioma is a rare disease, doesn't mean you're alone in this fight.

Learning that you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma can put a lot on your mind. Having the support of a loved one or caregiver will be important as you begin treatment.

About 3000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States

What causes mesothelioma?

Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma according to the American Cancer Society and is closely associated with past occupational exposure.


Some jobs that have been identified as high risk include working:


In a shipyard or the boiler room of a ship

Brake repair

In brake repair


In construction

Asbestos removal

In asbestos removal

Insulation materials

With insulation materials



References: 1. Optune Lua. Instructions for Use for Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Novocure; 2019. 2. Hazarika M, White RM, Johnson JR, et al. FDA drug approval summaries: pemetrexed (Alimta®). The Oncologist. 2004;9(5):482-488. 3. US FDA. Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) Program: Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff. June 2018. Accessed December 20, 2018. 4. Optune Lua. Patient Information and Operation Manual for Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Novocure; 2019. 5. Association of Central Cancer Registries. NAACCR Fast Stats: 2011-2015 Cancer Incidence Data for Mesothelioma. 6. American Cancer Society. What causes malignant mesothelioma? American Cancer Society Website. Updated November 16, 2018. Accessed August 26, 2019. 7. Nicholson WJ, Perkel G, Selikoff IJ. Occupational Exposure to Asbestos: Population at Risk and Projected Mortality—1980-2030. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 1982;3:259-311. 8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Center for Disease Control Website. Published January 29, 2014. Accessed August 26, 2019.

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