Mesothelioma Cancer Centers

Malignant mesothelioma, often just called mesothelioma, is a rare cancer that originates in the lining surrounding certain organs such as the lungs, heart and stomach.

The mesothelium produces fluid that helps the organs move against each other when you breathe. It has different names in different parts of the body: in the chest, it is the pleura; in the abdomen, it is the peritoneum; around the heart, it is the pericardium; in the testicles, it is the tunica vaginalis.

The mesothelium is most common in the chest, where it is known as the pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Lung Cancer

Unlike other cancers, mesothelioma does not grow as a single large tumor. Instead, it begins in the lining, leading to symptoms. If cancer starts in the lining around the lungs, it can eventually affect their ability to expand. Over time, cancer can grow into nearby organs or spread to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma lung cancer can also be grouped based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope:

  • The epithelioid type is the most common and has a better outlook than most types.
  • The sarcomatoid type tends to be harder to treat.
  • The mixed (biphasic) type has both epithelioid and sarcomatoid areas. It tends to have an outlook in between the other two types.

Learn more about mesothelioma causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Mesothelioma Treatment

Together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we have the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meeting the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and access to clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere.

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New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We offer access to New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in blood cancers.

Our Oncology Nurse Navigators Guide You Through Your Lung Cancer Journey

Oncology nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Mesothelioma Causes

Almost all cases of mesothelioma are caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous, powdery substance that was commonly used as insulation material for several decades. Breathing in asbestos can cause serious medical problems.

When asbestos particles enter the lungs, they can remain there for years before they start to cause problems. In many cases, people who were exposed to asbestos do not develop mesothelioma for more than 10 years from when they encountered it.

While asbestos exposure is what causes mesothelioma the majority of the time, there are other conditions, traits and habits that are not necessarily mesothelioma causes but play a role in increasing your risk. These conditions are known as risk factors.

Non-modifiable mesothelioma lung cancer risk factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing the disease. They include:

  • Personal history of asbestos exposure
  • Family history of mesothelioma
  • Living with someone who works with asbestos
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Air pollution: a mixture of solid particles and gasses in the air (car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen, among others)
  • Exposure to toxic substances such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel and others

Modifiable mesothelioma lung cancer risk factors can be modified, treated, or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes. They include:

  • A long history of cigarette smoking
  • A long history of drug abuse

Radiation therapy to the chest could also contribute to mesothelioma.

Although there is no way to prevent mesothelioma lung cancer, you can reduce your risk by following certain recommendations.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Test your home for radon
  • Avoid carcinogens at work
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma symptoms are not much different from other forms of lung cancer. They usually do not appear until the tumor has had a chance to grow and starts putting pressure on surrounding nerves and organs. Mesothelioma symptoms typically include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent headaches
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Recurring lung problems like bronchitis or respiratory infections
  • Persistent fatigue

It is important to make an appointment with your doctor when you experience signs of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Screenings are typically performed through a routine checkup even if no signs of mesothelioma are present. Your doctor will also schedule a screening if you are showing any mesothelioma symptoms or are exposed to certain risk factors. Typically, based on your doctor’s assessment, you will have one or more of the following before a mesothelioma diagnosis is made:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron-emission tomography (PET)
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Tissue biopsy

Mesothelioma Treatment

Medical treatments and surgical procedures include:

  • Chemotherapy. Medicines or drugs are used to kill tumor cells.
  • Radiation therapy. High energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams or protons, are used to destroy or damage cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. Boosts the immune system so it can find and attack cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy. Drugs or other substances are used to precisely identify and attack certain types of cancer cells.
  • Decortication. A type of surgical procedure is performed to remove fibrous tissue that has abnormally formed on the surface of the lung, chest wall or diaphragm.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Mesothelioma survival rates for patients with pleural mesothelioma at 5 years is about 12 percent. The mesothelioma survival rate for patients with the peritoneal type at 5 years is 52 percent.

Mesothelioma survival rates typically refer to the percentage of people who live 1 to 5 years after initial diagnosis.

The mesothelioma cancer experts at RWJBarnabas Health use state-of-the-art methods to diagnose and treat mesothelioma in any area of the body it occurs in, including the lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and abdomen.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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