Pathophysiology: Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common anatomical site for mesothelioma is the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it can also arise in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart), or the tunica vaginalis (a sac that surrounds the testis). Once fibers cause biological damage, the stage is set for the decades-long latency period for the development of malignant mesothelioma.
Signs & Symptoms: Mesothelioma signs may not appear until 20 to 50 years (or more) after exposure to asbestos. The most common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other features may include weight loss, fever, night sweats, poor appetite, vomiting, constipation, and umbilical hernia. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
Statistics: Deaths from mesothelioma cancer in Japan will continue rising steadily until the number peaks in 2027 and begins to decline, according to an alarming study done recently at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine. The same study projected a total of 66,327 mesothelioma deaths from 2003 to 2050 in Japan. Mesothelioma is the cancer caused almost exclusively from an exposure to asbestos. Statistics of mesothelioma mortality have been recorded in Japan since 1995, and the numbers started climbing in 2000 when 710 deaths were documented. By 2009, the number had risen to 1,156.