Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer that develops in the mesothelium, a protective membrane lining the interior of certain cavities of the body. There are three cavities in the body: the pleura (enveloping the lungs), the pericardium (enveloping the heart) and the peritoneum (lining the abdominal cavity). Mesothelioma most often develops at the expense of the pleura (90%) which causes malignant pleural mesothelioma, and more rarely affects the peritoneum and the pericardium (10%).
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare disease: it is estimated that there are between 800 and 12,000 patients with this disease in the US each year. The main cause of this disease is prolonged exposure to asbestos. The latency period between asbestos exposure and the discovery of the disease can range from 20 to 40 years. This is why experts say the disease will peak around 2020.
In two-thirds of cases, the disease affects …