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Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer - around 50 people are diagnosed with it each year in Ireland.

The primary cause is exposure to asbestos.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma (pronounced mee-so-thee-lee-oma) is cancer of your mesothelium. Your mesothelium is a thin layer of cells that lines the outer surface of your organs, the wall of your chest and abdomen.

This information is about pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of your lungs. This is the most common type.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer − around 50 people are diagnosed with it in Ireland every year.

Lung diagram

Mesothelioma can also develop in the lining of your abdomen, testicles or heart, but this is rare.

The layers that your lungs (the pleura) are separated by a small amount of fluid, which helps them to slide over each other easily. This allows your lungs to expand and contract as you breathe in and out. 

Mesothelioma causes the pleura to become hard or thicken. This makes it more difficult for your lungs to expand and contract as normal, making it harder for you to breathe. 

Sometimes fluid builds up between the two layers. This is called pleural effusion. The build-up of fluid also makes it harder for your lungs to breathe in and out. As a result, you will feel breathless.

More information about treatment for mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma includes surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy

Online Community Support

Looking for support?

Our cancer support section contains information and advice on coping with cancer for diagnosed patients and their loved ones.

Publications about mesothelioma

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