Mesothelioma starts in mesothelial cells. These cells form a membrane (lining) that covers and protects most internal organs in your body.

Mesothelioma is a very rare type of Cancer. It usually develops in the pleura or the peritoneum.

  • Pleural mesothelioma starts in the pleura. (It is sometimes mistakenly called a Lung Cancer.) As the cancer cells grow, the membranes thicken and press on the lung. Sometimes too much fluid collects between the 2 layers of the pleura. This is called a pleural effusion. Changes to the pleura or pleural fluid can make breathing difficult.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the peritoneum. It causes the membranes to thicken. Too much fluid may collect in the abdomen and cause the abdomen to swell. This is called ascites.

Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of Mesothelioma. Asbestos fibres are very fine. You can be exposed to asbestos either directly, by working with asbestos, living or working where asbestos was released from building materials or other asbestos products; or indirectly, by living with an asbestos worker and being exposed to the asbestos dust that is brought home on clothing and hair. Mesothelioma may not appear until 15 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Some people develop mesothelioma without knowing they’ve been exposed to asbestos. Other possible risk factors, such as family history, genetics and personal health history, are being studied to see if they increase the risk of getting mesothelioma.

In 2016, 445 new cases of Mesothelioma were diagnosed in Canada (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2017).


Canadian Mesothelioma Organizations

International Mesothelioma Organizations

Mesothelioma Blogs

Mesothelioma Stories

For more information on mesothelioma, please visit our health concerns for patients section by clicking here.