Mesothelioma – malignant

Alternative Names

Malignant mesothelioma

Definition of Mesothelioma – malignant

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon cancerous of the lining of the lung and chest cavity (pleura) or lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) that is typically due to long-term asbestos exposure.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Long-term exposure to asbestos — a fire-resistant material — is the biggest risk factor. Asbestos was once commonly found in insulation, ceiling and roofing vinyls, cement, and automotive brake materials. Although many asbestos workers smoked, experts do not believe smoking itself is a cause of this condition.


Symptoms may not appear until 20 – 50 years or longer after exposure to asbestos, and may include:


Malignant mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat.

Expectations (prognosis)

The average survival time varies from 4 – 18 months. However, your outlook depends on:


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/2/2010

Respiratory system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.