What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is cancer affecting the mesothelial cells which cover most internal organs. There are two main types of mesothelioma; pleural and peritoneal.

The five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is approximately 6%.

Cancer Council. 2018. Mesothelioma. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma.html. [Accessed 31 January 2019].

Mesothelioma. Digital image. Mayo Clinic. August 11, 2017, Image URL.

“Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible. Asbestos is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. Reducing your exposure to asbestos — directly and secondhand — may lower your risk of mesothelioma.

MayoClinic. 2017. Living With Cancer: The connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. [ONLINE] Available at: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/living-with-cancer-the-connection-between-asbestos-and-mesothelioma/. [Accessed 31 January 2019].”




“Mesothelioma that can develop decades after exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma usually targets the outer membrane of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the membrane lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Uncommonly, the heart or reproductive organs may be affected.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer. Malignant (cancerous) cells develop in the mesothelium, the protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma generally starts in the outer membrane of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Uncommonly, the heart or reproductive organs may be affected. Treatment depends on where the cancer is found and whether it has spread. 

Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma unless it is found early and can be removed through surgery. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually show up until it is in its late stages. This means mesothelioma is most often diagnosed when it has already advanced beyond the option of surgical removal. If this is the case, treatment will aim to prolong life and keep the person as comfortable as possible.

Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. This is due to the high rate of asbestos use and mining over many years. In 2007 there were nearly 600 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in Australia. Of these new cases, 81percentt were men. 

In Victoria, in 2011, there were nearly 131 cases diagnosed. Experts believe the number of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases will not peak until 2020. Since 1980, there have been about 13,000 new cases of mesothelioma in Australia.

Better Health Victoria. 2014. Mesothelioma. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mesothelioma. [Accessed 31 January 2019].”



Hazard: A piece of asbestos roofing. Digital image. NEWCASTLE HERALD. July 04, 2018, Image URL.

What is asbestos?


“Asbestos is the name used for a group of naturally occurring minerals. They have resistance to high temperatures and fire and make effective insulators and so were popular in building products in Australia from the 1940s to 1987. Asbestos-containing materials include:

  • flat and corrugated sheeting
  • cement pipes
  • insulation
  • floor tiles
  • adhesives
  • roofing
  • automobile parts such as brake pads
  • textiles
  • textured paints.

Asbestos and cancer

Asbestos is extremely fibrous and the tiny fibres are easily breathed in where they can become trapped in the lungs. Being exposed to asbestos increases the risk of developing cancers of the lungovary and larynx as well as mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung). These cancers often develop decades after exposure to asbestos.

Cancer Council. 2018. Asbestos. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/workplace-cancer/asbestos.html. [Accessed 31 January 2019].”



Hazard: A piece of asbestos roofing. Digital image. Cancer Council QLD. Nov 21, 2018, Image URL.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy and Mesothelioma survival rates

“Average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 – 21 months. How long a patient lives depends on several factors, including age, stage of the disease and overall health. Approximately 40% of patients live past one year, and 9% live longer than five years.

A malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer with symptoms that don’t typically show up until the later stages. Life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is generally short, especially without treatment, and varies significantly from patient to patient based on a number of individual factors and circumstances. Long-term survival is extremely rare, with fewer than 10% of patients living beyond five years. Early detection and quality health care are the most important factors in improving one’s prognosis.”



Mesothelioma.com. 2018. Mesothelioma Life Expectancy. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/prognosis/life-expectancy.htm. [Accessed 31 January 2019].”


Mesothelioma Surgery. Digital image. Mesothelioma Help. 2018, Image URL.

Mesothelioma Treatment

“Surgery is the most effective way for mesothelioma patients to extend their life expectancy. There are surgical options for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Multimodal therapy is a combination of two or more treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Overall, using more than one treatment has improved the life expectancy of patients with mesothelioma in any location, pleural or peritoneal. “

Mesothelioma Group. 2018. What is the life expectancy of a person with mesothelioma?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mesotheliomagroup.com/mesothelioma/prognosis/life-expectancy/. [Accessed 31 January 2019].”

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