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What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Exposure to asbestos or other hazardous toxins present the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. It can take 40-50 years to develop. The majority of mesothelioma patients begin to exhibit symptoms of this disease with shortness of breath and chest pain.

What kind of doctor treats Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is more specific to highly industrial regions such as ours. Though not common, it can be deadly and requires a specific, complex treatment strategy. As care for Mesothelioma becomes more complex, it needs to be more coordinated.

The Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma Program offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment approach. As a subsection of the Lung Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Team, the Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma Specialty Treatment Team includes pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists and interventional radiologists, and it is supported by a patient navigator who ensures personalized continuity of care at every stage.

Am I at risk for Mesothelioma?

Factors include:

  • Exposure to asbestos (such as in older homes or at a work site.)
  • Second-hand exposure through a family member who is exposed regularly.
  • Previous exposure to high doses of radiation to the chest or abdomen.
  • Certain genetic predispositions and environmental factors.

Should I be screened for Mesothelioma?

Symptoms of mesothelioma develop slowly over time. Two-thirds of patients with the disease will develop Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM), primarily a locally invasive cancer. However, if the disease has advanced, it may spread to distant organs. While there are no screenings specific to Mesothelioma, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos or have a higher risk of lung cancer should be screened regularly.

How is Mesothelioma diagnosed and treated?

In diagnosing Mesothelioma, patients are x-rayed to detect fluid in the chest. Fluid that accumulates as a result of mesothelioma will usually come back rapidly after being drained. If fluid is detected, biopsies from tissue around the lung will be obtained. Brain MRIs and PET scans can also be a part of the diagnosis process.

Treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation (or a combination of the three). Other key aspects of treatment include nutrition, pain management, and psychosocial issues. The Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma Specialty Treatment Team ensures personalized care for each patient.

For more information or to make an appointment with a mesothelioma specialist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, please call (225) 215-0250.

For Physicians: View the Mesothelioma Clinical Pathways.