Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the membrane (lining) that covers the outer surface of most of our body organs.

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Contents

Introduction

Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the membrane (lining) that covers the outer surface of most of our body organs.

For example, mesothelioma can develop in the lining covering the lungs.

What is the cause?

Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma will have been exposed to this mineral at some point in their life.

Mesothelioma can develop many years (usually 40-60 years) after the initial exposure to asbestos.

Outlook

The outlook for mesothelioma is poor, because it is usually diagnosed when it is at an advanced stage. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma will die within three years of being diagnosed.

The number of deaths from mesothelioma is expected to rise in the years ahead due to the long gap between exposure to asbestos and the onset of the cancer.

Want to know more?

Health A-Z: asbestosis

Health A-Z: cancer

Cancer Research UK: mesothelioma

Macmillan: mesothelioma

Content supplied by NHS Choices