Mesothelioma

Expert management of this rare thoracic cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can affect the lungs, chest cavity and abdomen (belly).

While there’s no cure for mesothelioma, our team has the experience to diagnose and manage the disease, even if it has advanced. We’ll help reduce your pain and make you as comfortable as possible.

We also offer a wide range of support services as part of your cancer care, including cancer support groups that let you connect with other people receiving care.

Mesothelioma risk factors

Long-term exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor for mesothelioma. Asbestos is a fire-resistant material that manufacturers once commonly used in insulation, ceiling and roofing vinyl, cement and automotive brake materials. Most people who develop mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure do so about 30 years after their exposure.

Other mesothelioma risk factors include gender and age. Men are at higher risk for developing mesothelioma than women, and the average age of someone who has mesothelioma is 60.

Mesothelioma symptoms

Mesothelioma develops slowly. Symptoms of the disease can take 20 to 50 years to appear and often are similar to those of other conditions. These symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss

While symptoms can develop in the disease’s early stages, people often ignore these symptoms until they worsen. You should see a doctor right away if you experience any of these warning signs. If you have mesothelioma, you may be able to get treatment before it progresses.

Our mesothelioma diagnosis options

Because mesothelioma is so rare, it can be challenging for some healthcare providers to diagnose the disease. Fortunately, our doctors use the most advanced tools and techniques available to diagnose mesothelioma.

Learn more about our mesothelioma diagnosis methods.

Mesothelioma treatment

Although there’s no cure for mesothelioma, we can manage the disease in most cases. Our management approaches are more effective when we detect and diagnose mesothelioma early in the disease process. In addition, mesothelioma management tends to be more effective at larger cancer centers like the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, which sees many cases of this rare disease.

Even if you have advanced mesothelioma, we have options available to help ease your pain, improve your breathing and make you more comfortable. We’ll work to not only prolong your life but also improve your quality of life.

You and your doctor will work together on a personalized treatment plan, along with input from our tumor board, which brings together all our thoracic cancer experts to provide a team-based approach to our care. Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery: If possible, we try to remove mesothelioma with surgery. Even if other doctors have diagnosed you with inoperable mesothelioma, our experienced team may determine that surgery is possible.
  • Chemotherapy: Certain medications can destroy cancer cells or stop them from multiplying. We use a special technique called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to place heated chemotherapy medication into your chest cavity immediately after surgery to effectively treat mesothelioma.
  • Targeted therapy: A newer type of medication targets the growth of blood vessels tumors need to grow. We usually pair this treatment with chemotherapy. These targeted treatments are part of our Precision Medicine program.
  • Radiation therapy: We use radiation to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing.
  • Palliative care: We provide options to help relieve your symptoms and improve your breathing.

Mesothelioma clinical trials

We’re constantly looking for new treatment options for mesothelioma. Our program for thoracic cancer clinical trials is one of the most active in the nation.

By taking part in a clinical trial, you have the chance to try new treatments before they’re widely available elsewhere. You and your doctor can decide whether you’re a good candidate for a clinical trial.

Learn more about our cancer clinical trials and how they work.

HIPEC: Treating metastatic cancers

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is heated chemotherapy that is administered after tumor-removing surgery to treat cancers that spread to the lining of the abdomen.

Learn More

Get Information on Clinical Trials

If you have mesothelioma, you may qualify for one of our clinical trials.

Request More Information

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A survivorship and support meeting for current patients, caregivers, and survivors of head and neck cancer. This group is facilitated by a licensed...

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