Mesotheliomas are connective tissue tumors in the area of the Mesothelium (the covering cell layer lines especially breast and abdomen) – are rare, and often difficult to diagnose, especially pleural (ribs or pleura) mesotheliomas. Varieties which occur in the mesothelium of the peritoneum or pericardium, are much rarer.
The pleural mesothelioma is approximately a thousand times rarer than lung cancer where men are affected more often as a result of professional exposure to pollutants (probability about 1:1000). According to current findings, mesothelioma is caused mostly by exposure to asbestos, glass fibre dust, toxicities of cigarette smoke and other exogenous contaminants. It is closely related to an asbestosis.
The most common symptoms of the disease are increasing shortness of breath, persistent cough and strong chest pain, and despite pleural puncture, rapidly trailing pleural discharges. The symptoms are usually late and match those of a pleural disease.
A Mesotheliomas diagnosis is made from cell samples obtained with a fine needle biopsy, pleural biopsy and histology as well as radiological examinations. Extraordinary care must be taken with biopsies as there is a significant risk of the disease spreading. The thoracoscopy is often leading the way. Computer tomographics (CT scan) are the preferred procedure for diagnosis, to confirm a metastasis of the thorax, the chest wall and the lungs.