What is Mesothelioma and What Does it Have to do with Asbestos?

I keep reading about mesothelioma on the Internet, and it seems always to be in relation to asbestos. I keep seeing a lot of ads for mesothelioma related services, too.

What is mesothelioma, and what does it have to do with asbestos? Is it some kind of lung disease?

Thank you!


Dear Curious,

Mesothelioma is a horribly malignant form of cancer which can develop in the lining of the chest (indeed, near the lungs), the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the lining of the heart.

It is, fortunately, ordinarily rare. However, it is increasingly being seen, particularly near the lungs, in people who worked around asbestos, where they breathed in asbestos for months or years on end. In part this uptick in cases is because people who worked around asbestos as long as decades ago are only just now being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma lawsuits are big business right now, with victims suing the corporations in whose plants they worked when they were exposed to the asbestos.