Mesothelioma Cancer

Each year, nearly 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Trying to understand this medically challenging cancer can be overwhelming, especially after you or a loved one receives a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

Most people have never heard of malignant mesothelioma. At Simmons Hanly Conroy, our lawyers have helped thousands of patients and families affected by mesothelioma get the compensation they need for treatment and life after cancer.

Call (800) 326-8900 now to see if our mesothelioma lawyers can help your family. It costs nothing to speak with us or our team of registered nurses.

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Get the Help You Need

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease linked to asbestos exposure, you may be eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit.

As a leading mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy has recovered over $10 billion for victims of asbestos exposure.

Our on-staff medical team and nurses can also help answer your questions and connect you with a mesothelioma specialist near you. Contact us today to learn more.

What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that most often forms on the mesothelium, the thin membrane lining the lungs, abdomen, heart and testicles.

The mesothelium protects these vital organs, making a lubricating fluid that allows the organs to move.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Virtually all cases of malignant mesothelioma are linked to asbestos exposure. Symptoms of the disease typically start to occur 10 to 50 years after exposure.

While there are several treatment options available, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, the disease still has a high mortality rate. Sadly, the cancer is not usually discovered until the later stages, when tumors have spread throughout the body.

Mesothelioma Cancer Prognosis

A prognosis is a description of what patients can expect after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Unfortunately, the average prognosis for mesothelioma can be quite poor because the cancer can spread quickly and aggressively.

The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12-21 months, with a 5-year survival rate of 10%.

However, some factors may improve a patient’s prognosis. For example, if mesothelioma cancer is detected early on, patients may receive a more positive prognosis.

Additionally, different mesothelioma types, cell types present in tumors and patient eligibility for treatment all adjust a patient’s life expectancy.

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How Malignant Mesothelioma Spreads

By the time symptoms of mesothelioma start to appear, the disease may already have progressed rapidly. In fact, malignant mesothelioma can grow so quickly it spreads to other parts of the body within a matter of months.

Cancer can spread through the body by invading the:

  • Surrounding tissue
  • Lymph system and traveling through the lymph vessels
  • Veins and capillaries and traveling through the blood

When cancer cells break away from the primary tumor and travel to other places in the body, a secondary tumor may form elsewhere. This process is called metastasis. The rate at which mesothelioma cells metastasize depends on each patient and their unique diagnosis.

Types of Malignant Mesothelioma

There are two common types of mesothelioma that are determined by where the cancer cells develop. Each type has its own unique characteristics and symptoms.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma cancer, accounting for 80-85% of cases. This type of mesothelioma develops in the lungs. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath and chest pain.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for 10-15% of cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the abdomen. Symptoms are often related to the digestive tract, like swelling and nausea.

Pericardial (heart) and testicular mesothelioma are rare types of this cancer that account for less than 1% of cases each.

Mesothelioma Cell Types

The type of cells that make up a mesothelioma tumor can impact its responsiveness to treatment and rate of spread, no matter where the tumors are located.

There are three different cell types associated with mesothelioma cancer:

  • Epithelial cells: These cells have a clearly defined egg shape. These cells stick together, which slows metastasis, but they also divide faster, contributing to tumor growth. Most common in pleural mesothelioma, they account for about 50 to 70% of malignant mesothelioma diagnoses.
  • Sarcomatoid cells: These cells are elongated and spindle-shaped. They are the most dangerous of mesothelioma cell types, because the cells do not bundle together, like epithelial cells. This allows them to spread faster.
  • Biphasic cells: A mix of epithelial and sarcomatoid cells.

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Get Help Paying for Treatment

Mesothelioma can be an incredibly challenging diagnosis. Treatment is the most important step to improving life expectancy and symptoms.

However, because treatment can cost over $400,000 a year, it is too often out of reach for those in need. Simmons Hanly Conroy may be able to help you get the compensation you need to pay for life-extending treatment.

“If it were not for the legalities, I would never have been able to receive the medical treatment I received. I’m still not able to work.”
Julie, Firm Client & Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivor

Our mesothelioma lawyers can help you navigate the legal process and answer any questions you have. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Malignant Mesothelioma Cancer FAQs

What can I do if I was diagnosed with mesothelioma?

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, Simmons Hanly Conroy may be able to help you secure the compensation you need for treatment and for your family.

Our lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy will work with you determine what type of legal options are best for you specific case.

Mesothelioma compensation options may include:

Get a free consultation so we can help you get the compensation you need.

What are common symptoms of mesothelioma cancer?

Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on the location of the cancer and the health of the patient. However, there are a some common symptoms that may be the first signs of mesothelioma.

These common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss

Who is at risk of getting mesothelioma?

Asbestos was widely used across multiple industries during the 20th century because it was durable, fireproof and resistant to conducting electricity. Those who worked in high-risk asbestos occupations are at an even greater risk of developing mesothelioma.

People who may be at an increased risk of mesothelioma include:

  • Aircraft and auto mechanics
  • Construction workers
  • Miners
  • U.S. veterans

Sadly, anyone who worked with or near asbestos may have also put their loved ones at risk of exposure. These fibers can easily travel home with workers on their uniforms, which is known as “take-home” or secondhand asbestos exposure.

What causes mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. When inhaled or swallowed, the microscopic fibers settle within the body. Over decades the asbestos fibers cause inflammation and damage that can eventually cause cells to become cancerous.

Simmons Support Team
Amy Fair R.N.Reviewed by:Amy Fair R.N.

Director of Medical Relations

  • Fact-Checked
  • Medical Reviewer

Amy fills a unique role helping guide patients and families through the often confusing and overwhelming steps following an asbestos-related cancer diagnosis. Assisted by 14 medical assistants and a Licensed Practical Nurse, Amy and her medical team provide healthcare information and explain treatment options to those recently diagnosed and throughout the progression of their disease.

View Sources
  1. American Cancer Society. “Malignant Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: Accessed on December 7, 2022.
  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) “Mesothelioma: Statistics.” Retrieved from: Accessed on December 7, 2022.
  3. Lung Cancer International. "Life Expectancy in Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma." Retrieved from: Accessed on December 7, 2022.