This website is for informational use only and does not provide any medical advice.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer that usually arises in the tissue lining of the lungs, called the mesothelium.

It usually starts in the lungs, but can also start in the abdomen or other organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked in places where they inhaled asbestos particles. It can take a long time – 30 to 50 years – between asbestos exposure and diagnosis.


The following are the most common symptoms of lung diseases, regardless of the cause. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Abnormal breathing pattern

The symptoms of occupational lung diseases may resemble other medical conditions or problems.


Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was added in the past to certain products for strengthening, heat insulation and fire resistance.

Most products today are not made with asbestos. Normally safe when combined with other materials, asbestos is hazardous to the lungs when the fibers become airborne (such as when a product deteriorates and crumbles).