Pleural Mesothelioma: A Review

Pleural Mesothelioma: A Review

Pleural Mesothelioma: A Review

Pleural mesothelioma, an uncommon yet highly aggressive form of cancer, targets the delicate lining of the lungs, called the pleura. This insidious disease is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral once revered for its industrial versatility. Unfortunately, pleural mesothelioma often evades detection until advanced stages, underscoring the need for awareness and understanding.

Causes and Risk Factors

The only cause of pleural mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers. When asbestos is disturbed, tiny fibers are released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested. Over time, these fibers may accumulate in the pleura, causing inflammation and cellular damage that can lead to the development of mesothelioma. It’s crucial to note that pleural mesothelioma can manifest several decades after the initial exposure to asbestos, making it difficult to trace back to the exact time and source of exposure.

Occupational exposure to asbestos is the most common risk factor for pleural mesothelioma, particularly in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, mining, and manufacturing. Additionally, family members of workers exposed to asbestos may also be at risk of secondary exposure if the fibers are carried home on the clothes of the worker.


The early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are often nonspecific and can easily be mistaken for other respiratory conditions. Common symptoms include:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • As the disease progresses, pleural effusion, a buildup of fluid between the lung and the chest wall, can occur, further exacerbating breathing difficulties.


A comprehensive diagnostic process typically includes the following:

  • Medical history and physical examination
  • Imaging tests such as chest X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans
  • Biopsy: A tissue sample is taken from the affected area for examination under a microscope to confirm the presence of mesothelioma cells and determine the specific cell type.

Treatment Options

The treatment of pleural mesothelioma depends on the stage of the disease, the overall health of the patient, and other individual factors. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery: In early-stage cases, surgery to remove the tumor and affected tissue may be an option. Surgical procedures include pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) and extra pleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
  • Radiation Therapy: High-energy rays are used to target and destroy cancer cells or shrink tumors. Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery or as palliative treatment to alleviate symptoms.
  • Chemotherapy: Powerful drugs are administered to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Immunotherapy: This innovative treatment approach stimulates the patient’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy drugs like immune checkpoint inhibitors have shown promise in some cases of pleural mesothelioma.

Since pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, early detection and accurate diagnosis are crucial for determining the most appropriate treatment approach and improving patient outcomes. If you or someone you know has a history of asbestos exposure or is experiencing symptoms related to pleural mesothelioma, seeking prompt medical attention and specialized care is essential for better management of the disease., You may have a right to seek compensation, contact us at 412-471-3980 or complete our contact form to speak with a member of our team. Ongoing research and advancements in treatment options offer hope for improved therapies and better quality of life for individuals affected.

Attanoos RL, Churg A, Galateau-Salle F, Gibbs AR, Roggli VL. “Malignant mesothelioma and its non-asbestos causes”  Arch Pathol Lab Med (2018) [Link]
Gunatilake, S. “Predicting survival in malignant pleural mesothelioma using routine clinical and laboratory characteristics” National Library of Medicine (January 2021) [Link]
Kindler, H.L. “Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline” (January 18, 2018) [Link]
“Pleural Mesothelioma” Cleveland Clinic (December 16, 2022) [Link]
Zhai, Z. “Assessment of Global Trends in the Diagnosis of Mesothelioma From 1990 to 2017” Global Health (August 11, 2021) [Link]

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