What is Mesothelioma?

Quite simply, mesothelioma is cancer of mesothelial tissue. What is mesothelial tissue? Mesothelial tissue is usually a single layer of cells that rest on a basements membrane and serve to secrete fluid that lubricates functions occurring on its surface. This surface is usually internal to the body, but facing outward toward some other surface in which friction may be involved. In other words, in tissue boundaries where things tend to rub across or up against one another, you have mesothelial cells. Think of them as “internal skin” for lack of a better term. It is the simplest illustration of what these cells are.

Where are these boundaries that exist in the body? The big three are the pleura, the peritoneum, and the pericardium. Essentially, these are all big slippery sacs that house their respective moving parts. The moving parts of the body are in constant motion, like large machines that create kinetic energy and would soon wear out just like the parts of a car if they weren’t properly secured and lubricated.

Therefore, the pleurum is the lung sac. The peritoneum is the gut sac. The pericardium is the heart sac. Think how many repetitive movements that all of the organs contained in these sacs make every day, and over the course of a lifetime, and you can see why they are so important. Like any moving parts, or surfaces that experience friction, there is the risk of wearing out and functional failure. This failure can be accelerated by exposure to impurities and foreign agents that negatively affect the natural function of these membranes.

A Dangerous Mineral: Asbestos

One of the biggest offenders in this department is asbestos. Asbestos is a glass-like mineral that was heavily used as an insulating material in many industries for years until it was found to be harmful. As a toxin, it is not very active; but its irritation of the mesothelia of the pleura once it is inhaled is very harmful. Over time, the aggravation that the asbestos causes to the cells of the lung sac lining turns them into cancers. Then you have mesothelioma. This aggressive form of cancer is very difficult to treat, as it usually involves both lungs.

Mesothelioma can affect other parts of the body; but the lungs are particularly susceptible, owing to the amount of exposure they receive due to prolonged inhalation. Mesothelioma causes the cancerous cells to divide, multiply, and invade neighboring tissues. It can also metastasize, meaning that the cells travel via the bloodstream or other means to different parts of the body.


All in all, Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, and one that is preventable in most part due to our knowledge of its contributing factors. Asbestos has been banned almost everywhere, and the EPA has put in place massive cleanup efforts and guidelines on how to rid our world of the remaining asbestos lurking around us. People who discover that they have mesothelioma should immediately contact a personal injury attorney because these experts have become specialized in helping victims recall where exposure to asbestos may have occurred during their career.

Sadly, the lives of mesothelioma patients are drastically cut short; but hope exists that compensation can serve as a solace to the survivors of this slowly unfolding tragedy.