What is mesothelioma?
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is a cancer that arises in the lining around the lungs.  The three main types of mesothelioma are epithelial, sarcomatoid, and mixed types.  The different types respond differently to treatments.
Risk Factors
Exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor for mesothelioma.  This can be in the form of personal exposure to asbestos at home or work.  Living with someone who is exposed to asbestos can increase a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma.  It is also possible that a certain virus (simian virus 40) used to make polio vaccine in the past may be linked to mesothelioma.  Radiation exposure may also be a risk factor.  It usually takes many years after the exposure for mesothelioma to develop.

Mesothelioma usually causes fluid to build up in the chest.  This fluid may compress the lung and cause difficulty breathing.  It could also lead to cough and decreased energy.  Patients may also have pain or aching in the chest.

Treatment for Mesothelioma
The goal of treatment in mesothelioma is to help patients live as long as possible with the best quality of life possible.  There is evidence that this is best achieved through a multidisciplinarly approach involving chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. 

The goal of surgical therapy in mesothelioma is to remove all visible tumor from the chest.  Sometimes, this can be achieved by removing the lining around the lungs, while leaving the lungs intact (radical pleurectomy).  Other times, this can only be achieved by removing the lung as well as the lining (extrapleural pneumonectomy).  Both procedures may involve removal of the sac around the heart (pericardium) or diaphragm muscle.   City of Hope surgeons design personalized surgical treatment plans for mesothelioma patients based on the extent of disease.

Combination chemotherapy using more than one drug has been shown to help patients with mesothelioma live longer.  For patients who are undergoing surgery, chemotherapy may be given either before or after surgery to help prevent the cancer from recurring .  We also offer clinical trials with new therapies for mesothelioma.

Radiation Therapy
City of Hope’s Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy  (tomotherapy) program uses the latest technology with precisely targeted beams to deliver high doses of radiation while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.  This type of therapy helps prevent cancer from recurring after surgery.
Clinical Trials
City of hope is one of a handful of medical centers in the United States with active  clinical trials for patients with mesothelioma.