Epidemiology of Malignant Mesothelioma
The incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma is approximately 2500 new cases per year in the United States. By comparison, the incidence of lung cancer is 160,000 new cases per year. Most cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma in the United States have a history of asbestos exposure.
Moderate survival is about 1 year, long-term survival is very rare. Malignant pleural mesothelioma also mainly affects men. It usually occurs after the fifth decade of life, with an average age of 72 years at diagnosis and 2 to 4 decades after exposure to asbestos. Cases have been reported in children, but these are not related to exposure to asbestos.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma occurs frequently in some countries, such as China, where asbestos is still widely used with little monitoring. On the other hand, in other places like Hong Kong, the risk of asbestos is still high, but the rate of malignant pleural mesothelioma is low. The reason for these differences is unknown.
Clinical manifestation of Malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is usually accompanied by chest pain and shortness of breath. Dyspnea, the most common early detection indicating the presence of pleural effusion, occurs in approximately 90% of patients. Specific symptoms such as unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, cough, fatigue and chest wall mass may also occur.