Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which forms on the thin protective tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen. Despite the fact the use of asbestos has decreased significantly in the US over the past decades, there are 3,000 new cases of it every year in the United States alone. The majority of patients has or had jobs in which they were exposed to asbestos, and there is a steady, continuous number of mesothelioma patients since the disease can develop from 20 to 50 years after exposure.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma and the prognosis is usually poor, but it can be treated with a combination of therapies which are meant to ease the symptoms and improve survival. Research efforts conducted over the past decades have made significant improvements in understanding the disease, as well as developing new treatment options and alternative therapies. While there are four different types of mesothelioma, the majority of patients suffer from what is known as pleural mesothelioma.