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Mesothelioma Basics

Mesothelioma, a relatively rare condition, is a deadly, aggressive cancer almost always linked to contact with asbestos. Typically, people suffering from mesothelioma have a history of asbestos exposure that was heavy, repeated and concentrated in an industrial setting. However, the heavy exposure may have been for a period as short as a couple of months.

If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma, you should seek the legal advice of a skilled, experienced Southern California asbestos and mesothelioma attorney today. Contact Rose Klein & Marias LLP in Southern California, to schedule a consultation.

With mesothelioma, cancer invades the mesothelium the lining of tissue that surrounds vital organs. By far the most common is pleural mesothelioma – cancer of the lining of the lungs. Next common is cancer of the lining of the abdomen or peritoneal mesothelioma. Very rarely, mesothelioma manifests in the lining of either the heart or testicles.

Symptoms Of Mesothelioma

The mesothelium has two layers: one around the organ itself and another forming an outer sac. Between these two layers is a fluid that aids organ movement. Mesothelioma causes the mesothelial cells to multiply wildly and to produce excess lubricating fluid. Ultimately, the mesothelium becomes a thick, tumorous coating of the organ accompanied by excessive fluid. This coating and fluid prevent complete, comfortable expansion of the lung.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can include:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Lumps
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Localized pain to the particular cancerous lining
  • Swelling and fluid buildup
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful breathing
  • Fever
  • Respiratory infection
  • Fatigue and anemia
  • Digestive problems
  • Bowel problems

Doctors perform a variety of tests to diagnose mesothelioma and to determine how advanced the cancer is including x-rays, blood tests, pathological tests, endoscopic ultrasound, bronchoscopy, CT scans, lung-function tests, biopsies or other diagnostic surgeries, MRI and PET scans.


Mesothelioma can metastasize (spread) into the organs themselves and to other areas of the body. By the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, the patient usually has only a matter of months to live and treatment is usually palliative – to alleviate symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma.


Treatment can include surgery to excise the mesothelial cells and surrounding tissue, chemotherapy, drug regimens, drug trials, gene therapies, radiation, draining of fluid followed by the injection of medication to prevent further buildup, and, rarely, lung removal. Research into new treatment methods continues, as current therapies have relatively disappointing results. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is usually a terminal condition. Current patients may be eligible to participate in experimental treatments, if they desire.


About 2,000 people in the US are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually. Risk factors include:

  • History of heavy exposure to asbestos
  • Being male
  • Advancing age
  • Living with someone who had concentrated asbestos exposure at work
  • Living in a country with a history of asbestos mining or industrial use

While the vast majority of mesothelioma patients have a history of asbestos exposure, only a portion of those with heavy exposure develop mesothelioma, so it is assumed that other genetic or environmental factors, in addition to the asbestos itself, must contribute to mesothelioma development.

Choose us for representation

Since the 1970s, federal and state governments have heavily regulated workplace asbestos exposure. Because mesothelioma takes decades to develop, most cases are seen in older retirees exposed before that time. Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones should obtain information about possible relief through the legal system from a knowledgeable Southern California asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer like one at Rose Klein & Marias LLP.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.