Mesothelioma

Asbestos Diseases Caused by Exposure to Asbestos Insulation

Asbestos exposure may cause asbestos-related cancers including pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer. Pleural mesothelioma is commonly referred to as asbestos cancer. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals commonly used in building materials such as flooring, ceilings, roofing, automotive parts and other construction materials.

How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma

The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.

When microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they become embedded in the lining of primary organs such as the lungs, heart and abdomen known as the mesothelium.

The mesothelium is a thin membrane of cells that produces a lubricating fluid on the surface of organs. Over time, asbestos causes inflammation and scar tissue to develop on the surface of the mesothelium that can lead to the development of tumors.

Types of Asbestos Cancers and Diseases

Asbestos is known to cause a multitude of health problems. Asbestos-related cancers and asbestos diseases include:

  • Asbestosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Mesothelioma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Asbestos Cancer Symptoms

Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma. There are three common types of mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a type of asbestos cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats and fever
  • Shortness of breath

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is a type of asbestos cancer that develops in the lining of the heart.

Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Night sweats and fever

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a type of asbestos cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

Asbestos Cancer Treatments at Penn Medicine

At Penn Medicine, treatment for mesothelioma and asbestos diseases may include one or more of the following treatments, or a combination of the following treatments: