Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the mesothelium, namely the membrane or thin layer of tissue that functions as a covering for organs in the body. Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer and can be fatal for sufferers.

This cancer is considered aggressive. Although medical treatment options are available to treat it, advanced cancer makes it incurable for most sufferers. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out regular health checks to detect cancer cells early and treat them immediately.

Doctors divide this type of cancer into several types based on the part of the mesothelium affected. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. This condition occurs when cancer cells affect the tissue around the lungs or pleura.

Apart from that, there is also peritoneal mesothelioma which attacks tissue in the stomach, heart and areas around the testicles. These three types of mesothelioma are less common.


Types of mesothelioma

  • There are four types of mesothelioma cancer, namely:
  • Pleural mesothelioma (pleural mesothelioma), which is cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs (pleura) and is the most common type
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma (peritoneal mesothelioma), namely cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum)
  • Pericardial mesothelioma (pericardial mesothelioma), namely cancer of the protective lining of the heart organ
  • Testicular mesothelioma (testicular mesothelioma), which is cancer that attacks the protective layer of the testicles or testicles.

In addition to the previous types, there are also benign mesotheliomas in the lungs and thoracic cavity that are called solitary fibrous tumors. However, this condition is not included in the types of mesothelioma that will be discussed.

Causes of mesothelioma

Most cases of mesothelioma are related to exposure to asbestos, a mineral found naturally in the environment. Asbestos fiber is very strong and resists heat well, so it is widely used for flooring, insulation, brakes and so on.

When asbestos is damaged or broken during certain procedures, dust is formed. If dust is inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibers will accumulate in the stomach or lungs. This condition is the initial trigger for mesothelioma. However, the way this cancer appears is still unknown at this time.

Mesothelioma risk factors

At a minimum, it takes about 20 to 60 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after exposure.

However, the majority of people exposed to asbestos never develop mesothelioma.

Doctors suspect that other factors may be involved and put a person at higher risk of developing this cancer, such as:

  • Have a history of exposure to asbestos, both at home and at work.
  • Being in the same house as someone who has direct contact with asbestos. Asbestos fibers can be carried on skin and clothing. This condition can be avoided by showering and changing clothes after work.
  • Family history of mesothelioma.
  • I had radiation therapy on my chest.

Mesothelioma symptoms

Mesothelioma symptoms vary greatly depending on where the cancer cells grow in the body. Pleural mesothelioma that affects the tissue around the lungs is characterized by:

  • Chest pain.
  • Painful cough.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • The appearance of an unusual lump under the skin of the chest.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Meanwhile, peritoneal mesothelioma that occurs in abdominal tissue is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Stomach ache.
  • His stomach was swollen.
  • Nauseous.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Additionally, other symptoms of other types of mesothelioma may be considered uncertain because they are rare. However, pericardial mesothelioma that attacks the heart may present with symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing. Then, mesothelioma tunica vaginalis which attacks the organs around the testicles is known by swelling in the area.

Mesothelioma diagnosis

To get a more accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma, the doctor will examine the patient’s physical health thoroughly. The doctor will also ask questions and brief answers regarding the medical history of the patient and his family. Apart from that, doctors also recommend carrying out additional examinations, such as:

Blood test

Blood levels of three substances, namely fibulin-3, osteopontin, and soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP), are often higher in mesothelioma sufferers.

Examination of fluid and tissue samples

If the victim experiences a buildup of fluid in their body related to mesothelioma, the doctor may take a sample of the fluid for further observation using a microscope in the laboratory.

This health examination has different modalities, depending on the location of the fluid, namely:

  • Thoracentesis if there is fluid in the chest cavity.
  • Paracentesis if there is fluid in the stomach.
  • Pericardiocentesis occurs when fluid is in the membrane around the heart organ.


The biopsy procedure to diagnose mesothelioma is also carried out in several ways, namely:

  • Needle biopsy, performed by inserting a needle to remove a small part of the tumor.
  • Thoracoscopy, laparoscopy and mediastinoscopy. The procedure involves inserting an endoscope (tube) through a small incision to view potential areas of mesothelioma. The type of examination performed depends on the area of the body being examined.
  • Surgical biopsy. The procedure is in the form of chest cavity surgery (thoracotomy) or abdominal surgery (laparotomy) to remove a larger tumor sample or the entire tumor.
  • Endobronchial biopsy with ultrasound assistance. The procedure is carried out using a long, thin tube that is inserted into the throat to check whether there are tumors in the lungs.


This examination allows the doctor to see parts of the body without having to make an incision or injury. Imaging tests that are usually performed as part of a mesothelioma diagnosis are:

  • Lung radiography
    This examination can help reveal abnormal thickening or calcium deposits in the lining of the lungs, fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall, or changes in the lung organs that indicate mesothelioma.
  • Scan
    The procedure is carried out using X-rays to show a more detailed picture of the inside of the body.
  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography)
    The test is carried out by taking pictures of compounds containing radioactive atoms to get a complete picture. Cancer cells will absorb larger amounts of radioactive compounds and appear brighter than normal tissue in the image.
  • MRI
    Scanning is carried out using radio waves and a strong magnet to produce more detailed images.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma treatment depends on the patient’s health, the stage of the cancer, and where the cancer cells are growing. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is an aggressive and malignant cancer, making treatment impossible for most people.

Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage and it is completely impossible to perform surgery to remove the cancer cells. However, the doctor may recommend some other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The goal is to help relieve symptoms and control the growth of cancer cells.

Mesothelioma complications

When mesothelioma spreads to the chest, pressure is exerted on the structures in this area. This condition can trigger a number of complications, including:

  • Hard to breath.
  • Pain in chest.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Pain due to pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
  • Fluid buildup in the chest or pleural effusion. This condition can cause pressure on the lungs and make it more difficult for sufferers to breathe.

Mesothelioma prevention

Several actions that can be taken to prevent mesothelioma include:

  • Avoid living with people who have direct contact with asbestos.
  • Follow the work safety protocols implemented by the company, such as wearing a mask, showering, and changing clothes at lunch or before going home.