George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Mesothelioma facts
- What is mesothelioma?
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
- What causes mesothelioma?
- How much exposure does it take to get mesothelioma?
- How long does it take after exposure for mesothelioma to show up?
- How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
- What is the prognosis for mesothelioma?
- What is the treatment for mesothelioma?
- Is there any promising research or are there promising drugs for mesothelioma?
- What other kinds of information is available for people with mesothelioma?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
- Mesothelioma is a cancer that arises from the cells lining the chest or abdominal cavities.
- Mesothelioma typically results from exposure to asbestos.
- When mesothelioma affects the chest, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope.
- When mesothelioma affects the abdomen, the doctor may look inside the abdomen with a special tool called a peritoneoscope.
- Mesothelioma is diagnosed by a biopsy.
- The outlook for patients with mesothelioma depends on how early the disease is detected and how aggressively it is treated.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer (malignancy) that most frequently arises from the cells lining the sacs of the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum). Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, often presenting with symptoms in the chest area. Peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common. This can effect the organs in the abdomen, and its symptoms are related to this area of the body, that is, abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting, and bowel obstruction. The rarest form of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma, which involves the sac surrounding the heart.
There are two major cell types of mesothelioma, epithelial and sarcomatoid. Sometimes both of these cell types can be present. The sarcomatoid type is rarer and occurs in only about 15% of cases; it portends a poorer prognosis. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can originate from benign, non-malignant cells. This so-called benign mesothelioma can be cured surgically.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Most people present with complaints of shortness of breath. They also can have complaints of chest pain. Surprisingly, this pain is often not pleuritic; that is, it does not get worse with deep breathing. This is surprising in that the pleura (outer surface of the lung) is often involved in this disease, and most other diseases involving the pleura are often associated with pleuritic pain (pain that worsens with deep breathing). Patients may also be asymptomatic, with the disease discovered by physical exam or an abnormal chest X-ray.
As the disease progresses, shortness of breath increases, and weight loss, decreased appetite, and night sweats can develop. Local invasion by the tumor can result in changing of voice, loss of function of the diaphragm, and symptoms specific to the area and involvement of adjacent structures.
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