Mesothelioma gets its long name from the specific part of the body it affects. It is a cancer that occurs in the thin lining that covers most vital organs, which are all in the middle of the torso. The lining is called the mesothelium, an older word for the middle of the torso.
The most common form of mesothelioma occurs in the lining around the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. Nearly all of these cases are connected to exposure to asbestos, a crystalline fiber that was used in manufacturing and construction during the middle of the 20th century.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which may affect the lining of the heart or the testicles, is less common and sometimes linked to other inhaled or digested material. The symptoms of both types are similar to many other disorders, which makes mesothelioma difficult to diagnose before it poses a fatal risk.
Asbestos exposure is the largest common factor identifiable during diagnosis. If a person has been exposed to asbestos at work or lived with a person who may have brought asbestos fibers into their living space, that person may have a good reason to get a screening for mesothelioma. This may involve a biopsy or a tissue sample taken during a surgical procedure.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma may be grave medical news, and patients or their families may be able to sue for financial damages to cover medical expenses or provide compensation for the pain and distress that comes with a disease and its treatment. An attorney can help families recognize whether a diagnosis is grounds for a lawsuit.