When a doctor identifies a tumor, the critical question becomes whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancerous, and while they can cause health issues, these tumors lack the ability to spread to other areas of the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and can spread throughout the body. Malignant mesothelioma refers to tumors in the mesothelium, which is the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Pleural mesothelioma is when malignant tumors originate in the lining of the lungs, or pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma refers to malignant tumors in the peritoneum, or lining of the chest. Pericardial mesothelioma involves malignant tumors in the lining of the pericardium, which is the lining of the heart.
Malignant mesothelioma is invariably fatal. People who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma have very limited life expectancies. The median life expectancy for people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is 12 to 18 months.
The only cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. For decades, companies in a wide range of industries knowingly or negligently allowed their employees to be exposed to this deadly substance.