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What is Malignant Mesothelioma?

By Grant Law Office on August 12, 2011

The Atlanta mesothelioma attorneys at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C., understand the dangers of mesothelioma and why it is inexcusable that so many should suffer from it. In an effort to raise awareness of this devastating cancer, we will be posting a 3-part weekly blog series, where we will be providing valuable information concerning mesothelioma, including its definition, types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Today’s article covers its basics and even a bit of history.


According to the American Cancer Society, malignant mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the body’s mesothelial cells, which are found in the lining of certain parts of the body, such as the chest and abdomen. Mesolthelioma is most often caused by exposure to or inhalation of asbestos dust and fibers.


There are 4 forms of mesothelioma cancer: 1) Pleural; 2) Peritoneal; 3) Penicardial; and 4) Testicular. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma, develops in the lining of the lungs, which is called the pleural membrane or pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma is rare and aggressive and develops in the abdomen, specifically the peritoneum layer of the abdomen. Penicardial mesothelioma is very rare, accounting for only 1 to 6 percent of all incidents of mesolthelioma, and develops in the heart. Finally, the rarest of all mesotheliomas is testicular mesothelioma, which develops in the lining that surrounds the testicle.

History of Asbestos

Although every case of mesothelioma may not be caused by asbestos, it is responsible for the majority of cases. It refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that were highly valued for their tensile strength, relative resistance to chemical attack, and poor heat conduction. Though asbestos is still used in limited amounts today, it was widely used and valued commercially in the past, beginning in the 19th century. Many people were regularly exposed to asbestos at their workplace, especially those who worked in the construction industry. Military personnel were also exposed. Unfortunately, people who contract mesothelioma from asbestos exposure may not experience symptoms for as many as 50 years.

Once the risks of asbestos exposure began surfacing in the 20th century, asbestos companies hid the truth and continued producing and selling asbestos and asbestos products in order to maximize profits. As a result, more and more people were exposed. It wasn’t until around 1964, when the diagnosis of mesothelioma was first conclusively linked to asbestos exposure, that things really began to change.

Check back in next week for our continuation of this series with an article about the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma.

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Posted in: Mesothelioma

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