Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Asbestos & Mesothelioma Cancer


Asbestos (5)

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that is crushed and milled into a fine particulate, and shipped to corporations for building and insulation materials. Asbestos mines around the world, many in Canada, produced over 250 million tons of asbestos for use in the United States between 1890 and 1970. Asbestos was added to a variety of products including insulation, automotive brakes, fireproofing, pipe covering, cements, refractory materials, gaskets, floor tiles and joint compounds.

The dangers of asbestos were known to the companies that made these products as early as the 1920s. However, asbestos was sold and used widely without warnings up until the 1980s. Asbestos products are still not banned in the United States and other countries but are no longer used as widely. Alternative materials were available that could have been used in place of asbestos.

During the installation, repair, maintenance, renovation and removal of asbestos materials, the products were cut, scraped, sanded and otherwise altered. Some materials, such as cements, were mixed at job sites using raw asbestos fibers. These processes created dust, which was breathed in by the laborers working with and around these materials. Dust from these products also traveled throughout buildings and factories and ships, and remained airborne for weeks. When swept, these materials were re-suspended in the air — where they were breathed in again by workers in the vicinity.

A wide array of workers were exposed to asbestos including shipyard workers, factory workers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, laborers, machinists, mechanics, powerhouse workers, and electricians. One cloud of dust from asbestos products can contain millions or billions of fibers, and even a small amount of asbestos can cause lung damage. Injuries also occur to people who washed their family member’s clothing after they returned home from work and to individuals who used asbestos products, such as floor tiles, in their homes.

Often, individuals won’t immediately recall how they were exposed to asbestos, and may believe that they were not exposed to asbestos at all. A careful examination and review of a person’s work and life history often reveals exposures to asbestos products that may not be readily apparent.

If I Don’t Remember How I was Exposed To Asbestos, What Can I Do?

It’s quite common for people with an asbestos-related disease not to recall the exact time, place, or nature of their asbestos exposure. This is largely due to the fact that these diseases can take decades to appear following exposure. Also, asbestos was used in so many everyday products, from talcum powder to cement to automotive brakes, that some people were exposed without realizing it. And many people knowingly handled asbestos but didn’t know that it was dangerous until much later because companies hid this information from the public.

At Belluck & Fox, LLP, we devote a substantial amount of time to reviewing your work and life history to identify possible exposures to asbestos. In many instances, a person may not be aware that certain products, such as floor tiles, brake linings, cements and even hair dryers contained asbestos. In addition, we are familiar with the use and presence of asbestos at many work sites and factories, including powerhouses, shipyards, schools and large buildings. We can find the witnesses and documents that will help establish your exposure to asbestos.

Belluck & Fox, LLP spends hours researching and investigating each asbestos case. We also use our substantial experience to help us investigate how you were exposed to asbestos and the companies responsible for your exposure. Our inventory of cases is limited to clients with serious injuries and we devote significant time and resources to each case.

What Types of Products Contained Asbestos?

  • Pipe Covering
  • Cements
  • Acoustical Plaster
  • Brake Linings
  • Sprayed-on Fireproofing
  • Gaskets
  • Floor Tiles
  • Insulating Blankets
  • Cloth/textiles
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Cigarette Filters
  • Hair Dryers
  • Rope
  • Gloves
  • Packing materials
  • Insulating Tape
  • Mastics
  • Millboard
  • Joint Compounds
  • Refractory products
  • Siding
  • Block Insulation
  • Asphalt products
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Boilers
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Pipe
  • Electrical Products
  • Turbines
  • Lab Equipment

This is just a partial list of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos was often used as an ingredient or component in these products between 1942 and the 1980s, and there were some products such as gaskets that contained asbestos well after the 1980s.

Why Was Asbestos Used in Building And Insulation Products?

The primary reason that asbestos was used in building products was as a binder or filler material. It was cheap and easily available. It is stringy and resilient, and thus made a good binder. Its resilience also reduced the breakage of the products between the factory and the worksite. In pipe covering and other materials, asbestos created air pockets which provided heat resistance.

Asbestos was marketed for its “fire resistant” qualities. In reality, at approximately 1200 degrees, asbestos transforms into an inert mineral. Other materials were available, even in the 1930′s and thereafter, that could have been used (and, in fact, were used) as substitutes for asbestos without any sacrifice in product integrity or heat resistance. The asbestos industry peddled asbestos as a “magic mineral,” creating a demand for the material, without advising of the dangers of asbestos. As a result, thousands of American workers were injured and killed. It was unnecessary and could have been avoided.

Crime Victims (6)

I Was Attacked in a Parking Deck and the Assailant Was Never Caught. What Legal Rights do I Have?

Even if you cannot sue the perpetrator, you may be able to bring an action against the owner or manager of the property where the crime occurred for their failure to provide adequate security or lighting. This is known as premises liability; most state courts impose liability on landowners or those who are responsible for maintaining the property for activities or conditions occurring on the land.

What is Date rape?

Date rape, or acquaintance rape, is when the rapist is someone the victim knows: a date, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, classmate, or anyone else who is not a stranger. The vast majority of rape or sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. The law does not make any distinction between stranger rape and date rape.

I’m Not Sure if I was Date Raped or Not and I’m Scared. What Should I Do?

Rape is scary. If you participated in nonconsensual sex, meaning you had sex with someone you know, but you did not want to and you told them no, then you were most likely date raped. The first thing you should do is to seek police and medical attention. If you do not remember the events or they are fuzzy, it is possible you were date raped using a drug – such as Rohypnol or GHB. After seeking medical attention and contacting the police, you should contact a Belluck & Fox, LLP lawyer to discuss your situation and possible claim.

What are my Rights in a Police Brutality Claim?

Under both state and federal law, police officers may not use excessive force on citizens in the performance of their duties. Because police brutality cases can be very complex, you need experienced and aggressive attorneys to successfully handle them. If you have been victimized by police brutality, you may be entitled to an award of damages, not only from the officers themselves, but also from the municipality or county that employed the officers. Contact Belluck & Fox, LLP attorneys today.

What Does it Mean to “walk” a Criminal Conviction?

In many states, a victim can “walk” a criminal conviction obtained by prosecutors into civil court. This means that a victim would not have to prove a crime was committed, only that physical and emotional damage was experienced by the crime victim. Many states, including New York, will extend the time frame to bring a case for crime victims.

Should I Contact a Lawyer to Help me with my Criminal Victim Case?

Yes. Crime victims turn to the criminal justice system to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of a crime. In addition, victims are entitled to seek civil justice to address the full impact of the crimes on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Belluck & Fox, LLP attorneys evaluate your potential claim against the perpetrators of a crime and those who enabled, through their negligence, the crime to occur. Contact us today.

Mesothelioma (5)

If I Was Exposed To Asbestos Many Years Ago, Why Was I Just Diagnosed With Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer or Asbestosis?

Asbestos illnesses and cancers are diseases of latency. This means that injuries from exposure to asbestos fibers do not become apparent until at least ten years after exposure. In many cases, diseases occur over 60 years after exposure to asbestos fibers. Therefore, individuals exposed to asbestos in the 1940′s, 50′s, 60′s, 7’0s, and 80’s may be diagnosed with an asbestos disease now.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial cells. Those cells line the body’s cavities and internal organs. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, the fibers can become lodged in the pleura, the thin, delicate membrane that lines and encases the lung. They can also lodge in the stomach or other organs.

The asbestos fibers irritate and create changes in the cells of the pleura, causing tumors to develop. This is known as pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma in the stomach lining is peritoneal mesothelioma. The cancer can develop in other parts of the body, too. It can attack the tissue sac that contains the heart or the tissues that surround the testes.

As the disease progresses, the cancerous cells can metastasize, or spread. As time passes, breathing, sleeping and eating become more difficult. Even the normal activities of daily living can become a challenge.

Types of Mesothelioma

The type of mesothelioma that a person develops depends on the primary organ that is affected.

There are four types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma. This form of asbestos cancer is found in the outer lining of the lungs called the mesothelium. This is the most common type of mesothelioma and has been studied to a far greater degree than any of the other forms of the disease.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. Fewer than 20 percent of mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year are peritoneal.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma attacks the pericardium or the tissue sac that contains the heart and the primary blood vessels. Pericardial mesothelioma accounts for just one percent of all mesothelioma cases.
  • Tunica Vaginalis Mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma is found in the tissues surrounding the testes. It is the rarest form of the disease, affecting less than one percent of all mesothelioma patients.

What are the symptoms of Mesothelioma?

The symptoms patients experience vary depending on the type of mesothelioma they have as well as the stage of the disease. Symptoms can also vary from patient to patient. Below are the primary symptoms experienced by mesothelioma patients.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are similar to a number of other respiratory diseases. However, anyone with a history of asbestos exposure should be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if exhibiting any of the symptoms.

Symptoms commonly associated with pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of appetite

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients most often experience the following symptoms:

  • Ascites (buildup of abdominal fluid)
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Extreme chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constant and acute coughing

Tunica Vaginalis Mesothelioma Symptoms

With so few documented cases of this cancer, little is known about the symptoms. However, medical articles detailing specific cases point to a testicular mass as the predominant symptom.

How is Mesothelioma diagnosed?

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be difficult for physicians, especially if your family doctor or pulmonologist is not familiar with asbestos-related diseases. Many patients suffer from debilitating symptoms for months before they are properly diagnosed and treatments begin.

When you go to the doctor with the presence of symptoms, your medical team will use several tests and procedures to determine the cause of your discomfort. The doctor will begin by asking questions about your symptoms and when you started experiencing them.

It is important that you let your physician know that you were exposed to asbestos if you suspect you have mesothelioma. Your doctor should have a thorough understanding of your background and history to help ensure an appropriate diagnosis.

Diagnostic Imaging Technologies

Many technologies are available to allow doctors to view organs and tissues and detect the presence of fluid or tumors. Imaging technologies help your doctor not only make a mesothelioma diagnosis but also determine a treatment plan and track your response to the treatments.

  • X-Ray Imaging
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • PET-CT (Integrated Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography)

What are the treatment options for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

While there is currently no known cure for malignant mesothelioma, treatments are available with the most common being surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Your doctor will recommend one treatment or a combination of therapies that are best for your situation. The course of treatment will depend on a number of factors including the location of the disease, the stage of the disease, your age, overall health and your preferences.

The information provided throughout this website is for your information only, and should NOT take the place of a full medical diagnosis.

Traditional Treatment Options

There are three traditional kinds of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma:

  • Surgery (physical removal of the cancer)
  • Chemotherapy (using drugs to fight the cancer)
  • Radiation Therapy (using high-dose x-rays to kill cancer cells)

Doctors will often use two or more of these treatment courses jointly to provide the maximum likelihood of success. This “multi-modal” approach holds the most promise for survival of malignant mesothelioma patients. Trimodality therapy, in which all three of these modalities are used, is considered the most effective, and aggressive, approach.


There are several types of surgeries used to treat mesothelioma and the disease type and stage will determine the type of surgery. Mesothelioma tumors are usually large and difficult to completely remove, so surgery is usually combined with other cancer treatments to ensure the best results in destroying the tumor.

There are generally two types of surgical methods for the treatment of mesothelioma:

  • Palliative Procedures are those which treat the symptoms of mesothelioma, providing relief for the patient, without aggressively treating the disease itself.
  • Chest Tube Drainage and Pleurodesis – The goal of chemical pleurodesis is to cause an irritation between the two layers covering the lung. This irritation causes an obliteration of the space between the layers where the fluid accumulated, and prevents further fluid to be able to accumulate there. There are a variety of agents, which can be used including talc and bleomycin. As the pleural space is closed, fluid drains out of the chest cavity using a chest tube.
  • Pleuroperitoneal Shunting has been used in patients who have failed chemical pleurodesis, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Pleuroperitoneal shunting can provide effective palliation in patients with a trapped lung or others who have failed treatment.
  • Potentially Curative Options are medical procedures that attempt to remove all gross disease with ‘curative intent’. Residual microscopic disease cells are then removed through Adjuvant therapy.
  • Pleurectomy/Decortication is a surgical procedure where the pleura, the membrane lining the lungs and chest cavity, is removed, without removing the entire lung. This treatment option is usually performed on patients in the early staging of mesothelioma.
  • Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) is the removal of the pleura, diaphragm, pericardium, and the whole lung involved with the tumor. EPP is considered a radical therapy and is not frequently performed by most surgeons, patients are referred to centers specializing in these treatments.Both the above ‘potentially curative’ procedures are typically used in combination with other treatment options (multi-modal therapy).


Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and may be used as the primary treatment to mesothelioma, or it may be used as part of a multi-modal approach. Chemotherapy is referred to as systemic treatment because the drug is introduced into the patient’s bloodstream and travels throughout the body killing cancer cells. The drugs may be in pill form, or injected into the body through a needle.

In addition to killing cancer cells, chemotherapy drugs work to restrict the uncontrolled spread of abnormal cancer cells – preventing them from dividing and multiplying.

Chemotherapy is not considered a ‘curative’ approach for the treatment of mesothelioma and instead focuses on shrinking existing tumors (usually prior to surgery – neoadjuvant therapy), controlling the spread of the cancerous cells, and removing residual cancer cells following surgery (adjuvant therapy).

To effectively treat mesothelioma, more than one drug may be used in chemotherapy. Depending on the drugs, the amount taken and the treatment period, there may be side effects. Historically, doxorubicin has been the most widely used single chemotherapy drug. Other newer drugs, including gemcitabine, cisplatin, carboplatin, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, vinorelbine, paclitaxel, and methotrexate, now are often preferred and are usually given in different combinations.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays help to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation may come from outside the body from a machine (external radiation) or from radioactive materials placed directly in or around cancer cells through thin plastic tubes (internal or implant radiation).

In pleural mesothelioma, it is difficult to irradiate tumor tissue successfully without injuring nearby organs like the lungs, heart, and liver. However, radiation therapy can be very effective in relieving pain in certain situations. Factors which can impact the use of radiation treatment include the volume of the tumor and how near it is to vital organs.

Non-Traditional Treatments

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy destroys cancer cells by using the energy from light and may also be effective when combined with surgery. Although this treatment is in the experimental stage for mesothelioma, it has shown promising results in treating other cancers. In the procedure, the patient receives a photosensitizer (a drug which makes cells sensitive to specific wavelengths of light) which collects in cancerous cells but not in healthy cells. Once the cells have been sensitized, fiber optic cables are placed in the body (usually through open-chest surgery) so that the correct frequency of light can be focused on the tumor. This causes the photosensitizer drug to produce a toxic oxygen molecule which kills the cancer cell.

Gene Therapy

This is a new treatment, currently in clinical trails. This approach allows treatment to target tumors, rather than destroying healthy cells which is the negative of traditional chemotherapy. In gene therapy, cancer is treated by altering genetic defects that allow a tumor to develop. A “suicide gene” is inserted directly into the tumor, making the cells sensitive to a normally ineffectual drug. The drug is then administered to the newly sensitive cancer cells and it destroys those cells while leaving the healthy cells unharmed.


Immunotherapy (or biological therapy) treats cancer by using the body’s own immune system fight cancer cells. Another name often applies to this therapy, biological response modifiers (BRMs). Though not yet obtainable, promising clinical studies are underway for immunotherapy.

Preguntas Frecuentes del Mesotelioma (9)

¿Qué es el mesotelioma y cómo se adquiere?

El mesotelioma es un cáncer de las células mesoteliales. Dichas células recubren las cavidades del cuerpo y los órganos internos. Cuando se inhalan o ingieren fibras de asbesto, las fibras se pueden alojar en la pleura, una membrana delgada y delicada que recubre y encapsula los pulmones. También se pueden alojar en el estómago y en otros órganos.

Las fibras de asbesto causan irritación y crean cambios en las células de la pleura, lo que produce el desarrollo de tumores. Esto se conoce como mesotelioma pleural, el tipo más común de mesotelioma. El mesotelioma del recubrimiento del estómago se conoce como mesotelioma peritoneal. El cáncer también se puede desarrollar en otras partes del cuerpo. También puede atacar al tejido de la pleura del corazón o a los tejidos que rodean los testículos.

A medida que progresa la enfermedad, las células cancerosas pueden hacer metástasis, o esparcirse. A medida que pasa el tiempo, dormir y comer se hace más difícil. Inclusos las actividades normales del vivir cotidiano pueden convertirse en un reto.

Tipos de mesotelioma

El tipo de mesotelioma desarrollado por una persona depende del órgano primario afectado.

Existen cuatro tipos de mesotelioma

  • Mesotelioma pleural. Esta forma de cáncer causado por el asbesto se encuentra en el recubrimiento exterior de los pulmones, que se conoce como el mesotelio. Éste es el tipo más común de mesotelioma y se ha estudiado mucho más que cualquier otra forma de enfermedad.
  • Mesotelioma peritoneal. El mesotelioma peritoneal afecta el recubrimiento del abdomen. Menos del 20 por ciento de los casos de mesotelioma diagnosticados en los Estados Unidos cada año son peritoneales.
  • Mesotelioma pericárdico. El mesotelioma pericárdico ataca el pericardio o el tejido del saco que contiene al corazón y a las venas primarias. El mesotelioma pericárdico equivale solamente al uno por ciento de los casos de mesotelioma.
  • Mesotelioma de la túnica vaginal. Este tipo de mesotelioma se encuentra en los tejidos que rodean los testículos. Es la forma más rara de esta enfermedad, y afecta a menos del uno por ciento de todos los pacientes de mesotelioma.

¿Cuáles son los síntomas del mesotelioma?

Los síntomas que presentan los pacientes varían dependiendo del tipo de mesotelioma que tienen, así como también de la etapa de la enfermedad. Los síntomas también pueden variar de paciente a paciente. A continuación de presentan los síntomas primarios que presentan los pacientes de mesotelioma.

Síntomas del mesotelioma


Los síntomas del mesotelioma pleural son similares a una cantidad de otras enfermedades respiratorias. Sin embargo, cualquiera con historial de exposición al asbesto debería estar consciente de los síntomas y buscar atención médica inmediatamente si presenta cualquiera de los síntomas.

Los síntomas asociados comúnmente con el mesotelioma pleural incluyen:

  • Falta de respiración
  • Dolor en el pecho
  • Efusión pleural
  • Pérdida de peso
  • Tos persistente
  • Pérdida de apetito


Los pacientes de mesotelioma peritoneal presentan con frecuencia los siguientes síntomas:

  • Ascitis (acumulación de fluido abdominal)
  • Pérdida de peso
  • Dolor abdominal
  • Fiebre
  • Sudoración nocturna


  • Dolor severo en el pecho
  • Palpitaciones fuertes del corazón
  • Falta de respiración
  • Tos constante y aguda

Túnica vaginal

Con tan pocos casos documentados de este tipo de cáncer, se conoce muy poco sobre los síntomas. Sin embargo, los artículos médicos que detallan casos específicos señalan una masa testicular como el síntoma predominante.

¿Cómo se diagnóstica el mesotelioma?

Cuando se detecta temprano el mesotelioma, se tienen más opciones de tratamiento, lo que permite una mejor calidad de vida. Sin embargo, diagnosticar el mesotelioma es difícil, especialmente si su médico familiar o especialista pulmonar no está familiarizado con las enfermedades relacionadas con el asbesto. Muchos pacientes presentan síntomas de debilitamiento durante meses antes de que se les diagnostique de manera adecuada y de que comience el tratamiento.

Cuando visita al doctor porque presenta síntomas, su equipo médico utilizará diversas pruebas y procedimientos para determinar la causa de su malestar. El médico comenzará preguntándole sobre sus síntomas y cuándo comenzó a presentarlos.

Es importante que le diga a su médico que fue expuesto al asbesto si sospecha que tiene mesotelioma. Su doctor debería tener un amplio entendimiento de su historial para ayudarle a asegurar un diagnóstico apropiado.

Tecnologías de imágenes diagnósticas

Están disponibles muchas tecnologías para permitirles a los médicos visualizarlo los órganos y tejidos, además de detectar la presencia de fluidos o tumores. Las tecnologías de imágenes le ayudan a su médico no solamente a realizar el diagnóstico de un mesotelioma, sino también a determinar un plan de tratamiento y a hacerle seguimiento a su respuesta a los tratamientos.

  • Imágenes de rayos X – Debido a la prevalencia de las máquinas y a su relativo bajo costo, usualmente los rayos X son la primera prueba que se le realiza a muchos pacientes. Los rayos X no tienen la resolución suficiente como para identificar el cáncer, pero pueden indicar la presencia de una efusión pleural o indicar la existencia de un tumor maligno en los pulmones o en la pleura.
  • Tomografía computarizada (TC) – Un escáner de tomografía computarizada utiliza rayos X y computadores para producir imágenes del interior del cuerpo más sofisticadas y detalladas que los rayos X convencionales. La TC se considera el mejor estándar de las pruebas mediante imágenes para un diagnóstico.
  • Imágenes de resonancia magnética (IRM) – Las imágenes de resonancia magnética utilizan un campo magnético fuerte y ondas de radio para escanear el cuerpo. La IRM proporciona imágenes de contraste de los tejidos blandos mucho mejores que la TC y frecuentemente se utiliza para planificación de las etapas de tratamiento y de la cirugía.
  • Tomografía de emisión de positrones (TEP) – La tomografía de emisión de positrones mide la actividad funcional y metabólica en el cuerpo. Los escaneos por TEP se utilizan más comúnmente para identificar la presencia de metástasis distantes.
  • TEP-TC (Tomografía de emisión de positrones, Tomografía computarizada integradas) – TED-CT es una técnica de imágenes de última tecnología que combina los escaneos TEP y CT en una sola máquina. Esto le permite a los médicos registrar de manera precisa las imágenes funcionales de la TEP con las imágenes anatómicas de la CT para proporcionar un entendimiento más completo del estado individual de la enfermedad del paciente.

Procedimientos de biopsias

  • Toracentesis – Se drena fluido del área pleural y de los pulmones y se somete a prueba para la presencia de células cancerosas. Este procedimiento se realiza cuando un paciente presenta una efusión pleural, o fluido en los pulmones.
  • Torascopía – Durante una torascopía se puede obtener una muestra de tejido de un tumor pleural o pericárdico. Un toracoscopio es un instrumento similar a un telescopio que se conecta a una cámara de video. Se inserta a través de una pequeñas incisión en el pecho, junto con herramientas quirúrgicas pequeñas. El médico puede observar el tumor a través de toracoscopio y puede utilizar herramientas especiales para tomar una biopsia del tejido.
  • Laparoscopia – Una laparoscopia le permite al médico observar y obtener una biopsia de un tumor peritoneal. En este procedimiento, se anexa un tubo flexible a una cámara de video que se inserta en la cavidad abdominal a través de incisiones pequeñas.
  • Broncoscopia – En una broncoscopia, el médico introduce un tubo flexible e iluminado por la tráquea hacia los bronquios para verificar la presencia de masas en las vías aéreas. Al mismo tiempo, el médico puede retirar muestra pequeñas de tejido anormal para pruebas posteriores.
  • Mediastinoscopia – Durante una mediastinoscopia, el médico inserta un tubo iluminado por debajo del esternón del paciente, al nivel del cuello y lo mueve hacia abajo dentro del pecho. El médico puede observar los nódulos linfáticos y tomar muestras de tejido para verificar la presencia de cáncer.


El mesotelioma es una enfermedad agresiva que frecuentemente requiere de una estrategia de tratamiento igualmente agresiva. Sin embargo, el mesotelioma es resistente a muchos tratamientos estándares del cáncer, lo que lo hace una enfermedad difícil de manejar.

Con mucha frecuencia el plan de tratamiento consiste de quimioterapia. Para pacientes que son candidatos, la cirugía y la radiación también se utilizan en un enfoque multimodal. Los pacientes deberían trabajar cercanamente con su equipo médico para desarrollar un plan de tratamiento que se ajuste a sus necesidades y objetivos de tratamiento.

Aunque no existe una cura para el mesotelioma, se hace referencia a las estrategias de tratamiento como curativas o paliativas en su intención. Los tratamientos curativos intentan curar o controlar la enfermedad, mientras que el cuidado paliativo se orienta hacia aliviar los síntomas y mantener al paciente cómodo y rodeado por los seres queridos sin tratar el cáncer mismo.

Las opciones de tratamiento del mesotelioma incluyen:

  • Cirugía. No todos los pacientes son buenos candidatos para una cirugía. Además de la salud general del paciente, la etapa y el tipo de enfermedad ayudan a determinar la decisión de operar del oncólogo. Las dos cirugías curativas principales para pacientes con mesotelioma son la pleurectomía o decorticación y la neumonectomía extrapleural (EPP).
    • Pleurectomía o decorticación (P/D). Esta cirugía se conoce a veces como la cirugía de “salvación del pulmón”. La cirugía consiste en retirar de la membrana enferma que recubre los pulmones y los tumores de mesotelioma visibles para salvar el pulmón.
    • Neumonectomía extrapleural (EPP). La EPP es la alternativa a la P/D para pacientes con mesotelioma pleural. Esta cirugía se considera un procedimiento más radical que implica la eliminación de un pulmón, el revestimiento enfermo de la cavidad torácica y el corazón, y una porción del diafragma.

Los procedimientos quirúrgicos paliativos se centran en aliviar los síntomas que están afectando la calidad de vida del paciente, pero no se centran en curar el cáncer. La pleurectomía de citorreducción y la pleurodesis son dos procedimientos que se utilizan a menudo en combinación para mejorar la respiración de un paciente. La pleurectomía alivia la presión sobre los pulmones mediante la extracción de las células cancerosas de la pleura. A continuación, se realiza una pleurodesis para fusionar la pleura y limitar la acumulación de líquido.

  • Quimioterapia. La quimioterapia es una de las modalidades de tratamiento primario para el mesotelioma. En la quimioterapia, consiste en un medicamento fuerte utilizado para matar las células cancerosas, se administra a través de una infusión en ciclos durante un período de varios meses. Desafortunadamente, los medicamentos de la quimioterapia no distinguen entre las células cancerosas y las normales, y también matan a las células sanas. Como resultado, los pacientes que se someten a quimioterapia comúnmente experimentan efectos secundarios, incluyendo la anemia, náuseas o cualquier otra alteración digestiva, y pérdida del cabello. El tratamiento de quimioterapia más común para el mesotelioma es la combinación de Alimta (pemetrexed), que fue aprobado por la Administración de Medicamentos y Alimentos de los EE.UU. en 2004, y cisplatino, un elemento básico de larga data de muchos tratamientos de quimioterapia.
  • Radiación. La radioterapia utiliza la radiación ionizante de alta energía para eliminar las células cancerosas. La radiación ionizante cambia la estructura del ADN en las células, inhibiendo así el crecimiento y la división. La radiación se utiliza en la mayoría de los casos de mesotelioma. Sin embargo, la localización de las células