Considered one of the most devastating and dangerous diseases, mesothelioma is a mystery to most people unless they have personal experience with the disease. Many questions remain, but hopefully these frequently asked questions can eliminate the most common concerns.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral often used in the construction, engineering and scientific industries for insulation. Individuals exposed to this mineral are prone to a number of health hazards if the microscopic fibers released into the air are inhaled.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.  It may affect the heart, abdomen and/or the lining of the lungs.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

A mesothelioma patient may experience shortness of breath, coughing up blood and chest pain. These common symptoms are similar to other health disorders and the natural signs of aging, making it harder to diagnose. Also, different forms of mesothelioma have different symptoms depending on the location of the tumor.

Are there different types of mesothelioma?

There are three main types of mesothelioma that affect different areas of the body. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form which affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the lining of the abdomen. A rare form, pericardial mesothelioma, causes damage to the protective sac that covers and lubricates the heart.  Cases of mesothelioma which affect the tunica vaginalis, the lining of the testes, have also been reported.

Who is at risk for exposure to asbestos?

People who have worked in the asbestos, shipbuilding and construction industries have a greater risk for asbestos exposure. There are over 3,000 known products with asbestos material, to which millions of people have been exposed.

What makes asbestos dangerous?

The small size of asbestos particles is dangerous because they can become suspended in the air. These particles are inhaled easily and linger on clothing. Once the asbestos particles are inhaled, damage to the cellular structure of internal organs, particularly the lungs, begins.

How does asbestos cause mesothelioma?

The exact mechanism by which asbestos fibers cause cancer is still being debated.  It is known that, once lodged in tissues of the body, the fibers cause inflammation and cellular damage.  Over time, it is thought that the fibers either physically or chemically alter the cells’ DNA, causing the cells to divide out of control and become malignant.

Is mesothelioma the only disease caused by asbestos exposure?

Mesothelioma is not the only disease that is caused by asbestos exposure, although it is the most fatal. Asbestosis is another condition that is caused by inhaling asbestos particles.

What is asbestosis?

The accumulation of scar tissue in the lungs from asbestos particles causes asbestosis. Over a period of time, the lung becomes overwhelmed from the scar tissue, causing lung and heart failure.

Are treatments available for asbestos-related illnesses?

Currently, no cure exists for either mesothelioma or asbestosis. Only the symptoms can be treated.  However, medical science is continuously making advances to diagnose and produce treatments for these devastating, often deadly, conditions.

Can smoking cigarettes cause mesothelioma?

Cigarettes are not a cause of mesothelioma. Individuals who are exposed to asbestos should not smoke, however, as the combination increases the chances of developing other types of lung cancer.

What should I do if I am diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease?

You should strictly follow your doctor’s orders for treatment. Contact an attorney to see if legal action against the responsible party of your injury is possible.

Is there a statute of limitations for filing a claim?

Yes. Each state has statutes of limitation laws which restrict the amount of time you have to initiate a claim.

How can I afford an attorney for a lawsuit?

Most attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma lawsuits work on a contingency fee, meaning no fees, court costs or expenses (the exception is unpaid medical bills) are paid until you win. This guarantees that the attorney will work hard on your case.


Mesothelioma Symptoms was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

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