Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart (pericardial mesothelioma), and testicles (testicular mesothelioma). It is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral fiber that was once widely used in various industries.
Due to its rarity and the specialized knowledge required to diagnose and treat mesothelioma effectively, mesothelioma experts are relatively rare when compared to experts in more common cancers. Here are a few reasons for this rarity:
- Limited prevalence: Mesothelioma is a relatively uncommon cancer, with an annual incidence of around 3,000 new cases in the United States. As a result, there is less incentive for healthcare professionals to specialize in its treatment compared to more prevalent cancers like lung or breast cancer.
- Specialized knowledge: Diagnosing and treating mesothelioma requires specialized expertise due to its unique characteristics, such as its association with asbestos exposure and its often aggressive nature. This specialized knowledge includes understanding the various diagnostic tests and treatment options specific to mesothelioma.
- Multidisciplinary approach: Managing mesothelioma often requires a multidisciplinary team of experts, including oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, surgeons, and pathologists, among others. Finding a single expert who possesses all the required expertise can be challenging.
- Evolving treatments: The treatment of mesothelioma is continually evolving as researchers develop new therapies and improve existing ones. Staying up-to-date with the latest treatment options and clinical trials is essential for mesothelioma experts, which can be a demanding task.
When seeking care for mesothelioma, it’s essential to consult with medical professionals who have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Medical centers or hospitals with specialized oncology departments or mesothelioma programs may have teams of healthcare professionals with the necessary expertise to provide comprehensive care for mesothelioma patients. Additionally, reaching out to organizations and support groups dedicated to mesothelioma can help patients and their families connect with experts and find valuable resources for coping with the disease.