Mesothelioma. Supplements & Treatment Options for Asbestos Exposure

Updated: 11/20/23

Are you concerned about the potentially devastating effects of asbestos exposure? Do you fear that you may be at risk for mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer caused by asbestos fibers infiltrating your lungs? You can relax a bit knowing that there are ways to protect yourself and even treatments available if you do end up stricken with this terrible illness. In this article, we’ll cover all the basics from supplements to take as a preventive measure to new medical breakthroughs in treatment options should the worst happen. With enough knowledge and planning, hopefully dealing with mesothelioma won’t need to be something that keeps you up at night anymore.

What is Mesothelioma?

Have you heard of mesothelioma? Although it is a rare type of cancer, it is considered one of the most dangerous. Mesothelioma is a disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, which can lead to lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and mesothelioma. This cancer has a low survival rate, and once the symptoms begin to present themselves, it can be difficult to treat. With this in mind, it is crucial to understand the disease’s symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, and although there is currently no known cure, several treatment options are available. The symptoms of mesothelioma can be challenging to identify, and an early diagnosis is essential for the best possible outcome. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, remember that emotional and mental support is available in addition to medical treatment. The mesothelioma patient community provides numerous resources to help patients and their families through the difficult journey.

It’s is an aggressive form of cancer that can affect the lungs, heart, testes and abdomen. This condition develops after prolonged exposure to a group of minerals called asbestos. After exposures, the patient inhales or ingests its fibers and they become embedded in the linings of the internal organs. Once they enter the body, asbestos fibers cause irritation or cell mutation, which leads to mesothelioma cancer.

Types of Mesothelioma

There are different types of mesothelioma depending on the type of cancer cells. Common types of mesothelioma include:

Pleural Mesothelioma

This is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for around 75% of cases. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining (pleura) around the lungs and chest cavity. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Early detection is critical in treating pleural mesothelioma since it can quickly spread to other organs and parts of the body.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The second most common form of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the thin layer of tissue (peritoneum) that lines the abdomen. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and fluid buildup in the abdomen. Due to its location and slow growth, peritoneal mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose early on. However, treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy have shown promising results in managing this type of cancer.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

This is a rare form of mesothelioma that affects the lining (pericardium) around the heart. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Due to its uncommon nature and location, pericardial mesothelioma can be challenging to diagnose and treat. However, emerging treatments such as immunotherapy and gene therapy are being developed to improve survival rates for this type of cancer.

Testicular Mesothelioma

This is the rarest form of mesothelioma and affects the lining around the testicles. Symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include a lump or swelling in the testicles, pain or discomfort, and fluid buildup. Due to its rarity and lack of knowledge surrounding its development, testicular mesothelioma can be difficult to spot early on. However, surgery to remove the affected tissue has shown promising results in managing this type of cancer.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

According to research, mesothelioma is usually asymptomatic for about 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. In most cases, the symptoms begin to appear when the tumor begins to put pressure on a nerve, organ, bone or other part of the body. The disease develops in four stages with different symptoms and potential outcomes. The symptoms usually appear in the third and fourth stages. Therefore, it may be difficult to diagnose mesothelioma during the first and second stages based on the symptoms alone. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

Pain in Your Chest, Under Your Rib Cage.

This is one of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma. The pain can be sharp or dull and may get worse when you cough or take deep breaths.


If you have a persistent cough that does not go away, it may be a sign of mesothelioma. The cough may be dry or produce mucus.

Shortness of Breath

If you have trouble breathing or feel short of breath, it could be a sign of mesothelioma. This symptom often occurs along with chest pain and coughing.

Lumps Under the Skin on Your Chest

Mesothelioma can cause lumps or bumps to form under the skin on your chest. These lumps may be small or large and are often painless.

Weight Loss You Can’t Explain

If you are losing weight without trying or are experiencing unexplained weight loss, it may be a sign of mesothelioma. This symptom is often caused by a loss of appetite, which can be a side effect of mesothelioma.

A Swollen Abdomen

Mesothelioma that affects the abdomen can cause a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, which can lead to swelling. This symptom is known as ascites.

Pain in your Abdomen

Mesothelioma can cause pain or discomfort in the abdomen. This symptom is often accompanied by a swollen abdomen and weight loss.


If you feel queasy or sick to your stomach, it may be a sign of mesothelioma. Nausea can be caused by many factors, but it is important to rule out mesothelioma if you experience it.


We’ve already mentioned this symptom, but it is worth mentioning again. If you are feeling abnormally tired or fatigued, it may be a sign of mesothelioma. Don’t ignore this symptom if it persists.

Causes of Mesothelioma

How Mesothelioma Develops

Mesothelioma develops when asbestos fibers inhales or becomes injestion, embedded in the tissue lining the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen. Over time, these fibers can cause inflammation, scarring, and damage to cells, leading to the development of cancer. While anyone can develop mesothelioma, those at the highest risk are individuals who have exposure to asbestos in their workplace or personal life.

Once asbestos fibers are embedded in the tissue, they can remain there for decades without causing any noticeable symptoms. Mesothelioma can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop, and by the time it receives a diagnosis, it’s often in the later stages, making it challenging to treat. Symptoms of mesothelioma can include shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, weight loss, and fatigue.

Early Stages

In stage one, the cancer localizes and the cancer cells have not spread far beyond the pleural lining. Most of the time it does not cause any symptoms and treatment is more effective, producing a more positive prognosis and survival rate between 41 and 46 percent.

The second stage has two important characteristics that separate it from stage one. First, tumors develop in the membrane lining around the lungs. Second, the cancer cells spread to nearby lymph nodes. At this point, the condition still does not usually cause any symptoms and the survival rate drops to about 38 percent.

Advanced Stages

By stage three, the tumors spread through the lining of the lungs to lymph nodes, but they stay on the same side of the body as the original tumor. It may affect the diaphragm, heart sac and the layers of the chest wall. Survival rate is between 26 and 30 percent.

At the fourth stage, the condition is considered late- or end-stage. At this point, the tumors spread to distant organs such as the lymph nodes, the brain, spine, prostate or heart lining. This stage is terminal with a life expectancy usually less than 12 months. In this stage, the common symptoms—coughing, breathlessness—are much more severe and symptoms may affect other parts of the body because the tumor has spread. Patients may have difficulty swallowing, fatigue and abdominal pain. They may also cough up blood and experience severe weight loss or loss of appetite.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma develops from long-term exposure to a group of minerals called asbestos. Most of the time, patients are exposed to it in workplace environments. However, asbestos exposure can happen anywhere, including at home. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was a common ingredient in commercial, residential, industrial and domestic products such as ceiling tiles, shingles, cement, adhesives and insulation.

Employees in the factories that manufacture these products have often exposure to asbestos while working. Others, including homeowners and their families, can experience secondary asbestos exposure in their homes. It also affects communities near asbestos mining and manufacturing sites.

Occupational Exposure

High-Risk Occupations

There are several different occupations that increase the risk for asbestos exposure and potentially mesothelioma. According to research, the occupations most at risk include construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers, power plant workers and shipyard workers, respectively. Other high-risk occupations include insulators, factory workers, steel mill workers, boiler workers and textile mill workers.

Moderate Risk Occupations

There are also jobs that involve direct or indirect exposure that cause a moderate risk. These jobs expose workers to low asbestos levels, but over long periods of time employees may still ingest or inhale dangerous amounts of it. Auto mechanics, blacksmiths, electricians, plumbers and chemical plant workers are at a moderate risk for exposure.

Low-Risk Occupations

Lastly, there are low-risk occupations that do not expose employees to asbestos frequently, but low-level exposure can still cause mesothelioma over long periods of time. Hairdressers, teachers, chimney sweeps, appliance installers and aircraft mechanics may have exposure to low-level concentrations.

Secondhand Exposure

During the asbestos industry boom, patients developed mesothelioma from secondhand exposure as well. Specifically, employees in at-risk occupations can transfer asbestos fibers from their shoes, tools, hair and clothes back to their homes. Then their families may be at risk of secondhand exposure and suffering health complications as a result.

Environmental Exposure

In addition, asbestos occurs naturally in hills and mountains. Even if they do not work in an at-risk occupation, patients may also suffer from exposure if they live in areas with significant asbestos deposits in the environment. The most exposure occurs in residential communities near asbestos mines or other industrial areas.

What Causes Mesothelioma Besides Asbestos?

Radiation Exposure

Prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. Workers in the nuclear power industry and those undergoing radiation therapy for cancer are at higher risk for mesothelioma. Moreover, people who have undergone surgeries or diagnostic tests involving radiation exposure may be at a slightly higher risk. Radiologists and technicians who work in an environment where radiation is prevalent are also at risk. Therefore, it’s essential to take safety precautions and follow guidelines to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation.


Zeolites are minerals that are similar to asbestos and are in certain parts of the world. Exposure to zeolites may increase the risk of mesothelioma. The risk is higher in people who work in mines or areas where natural deposits of zeolite exist. Countries like Turkey and Greece have high occurrences of mesothelioma cases linked to zeolite exposure. The use of zeolites results in mesothelioma cases in China, Russia, and Iran. Avoidance of zeolite exposure through safety measures can help prevent mesothelioma.

SV40 Virus

The Simian Virus 40 (SV40) is a virus that exists in some monkey species and contaminated polio vaccines. Some studies have suggested that exposure to SV40 may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. However, more research is necessary to confirm this link. The mechanism of how this virus increases the risk of mesothelioma is not yet available. Prevention is challenging as SV40 exposure may not be within one’s knowledge, making mesothelioma prevention difficult.


While rare, some cases of mesothelioma may be linked to genetic mutations that increase the risk of developing the disease. It’s important to note that the majority of mesothelioma cases are not genetic. Genetic testing is not typically receive completion when diagnosing mesothelioma, but it may be an option for people with a family history of mesothelioma. Early detection is crucial, and if mesothelioma receives detection early, treatments like chemotherapy and surgery are more effective.

How Mesothelioma is Diagnosed

If your doctor suspects that you have mesothelioma, he or she will likely order a series of diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include imaging scans such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRI’s. A biopsy may also be performed to collect a tissue sample for further analysis. This can involve surgery or the use of a needle to remove a small piece of tissue.

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be challenging, which is why it is important to work with a specialist who has experience in treating this type of cancer. Asbestos exposure attorneys can help you find the right mesothelioma specialist to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Working with a specialist can ensure that you receive the best possible care and the highest chance of success.

Can Mesothelioma Spread?

The short answer is yes, mesothelioma can spread to other parts of the body, but this is relatively rare. Most cases of mesothelioma localizes, meaning that the tumor is confines to the specific area where it first develops. In some cases, however, mesothelioma can spread (or metastasize) to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. When mesothelioma spreads to distant parts of the body, it is advanced or metastatic mesothelioma.

How mesothelioma spreads depends on various factors, including the type of mesothelioma, the stage of the cancer, and the patient’s overall health. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, is the most common type and is more likely to spread to other organs. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, is less likely to spread but can still be life-threatening. Keep in mind that these are generalizations and that each case of mesothelioma is unique and should be evaluated and treated as such.

Can Mesothelioma be Detected Early?

Early detection is crucial in the effective treatment of mesothelioma. When mesothelioma is in its early stages, it can be receive more efficient treatment, improving quality of life and even life expectancy. However, once mesothelioma progresses to an advanced stage, treatment options have limitations, and many patients do not survive long after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In some cases, the patient may need a combination of treatments called multimodal therapy. Treatment depends on the type of cancer cell and where the tumor develops.


Surgery is one of the most common mesothelioma treatment options. During surgery, the tumor receives removal from the lining of the lungs or the chest wall. In some cases, the entire lung may experience removal. Although surgery is a highly effective treatment option, it may not be a recommendation for all patients. Your doctor will determine if surgery is the right option for you. If you are a suitable candidate for surgery, your doctor will then determine the type of surgery best suited for your situation.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a mesothelioma treatment option that makes use of high-energy particles to kill cancer cells. It usually receives administration after surgery to ensure that all the cancer cells receive destruction. Radiation therapy may also be as a standalone treatment option for patients who are not eligible for surgery.


Chemotherapy is a highly effective mesothelioma treatment option that makes use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is usually receives administration through an IV infusion. The drugs in chemotherapy are highly toxic, and they can cause several side effects. Your doctor will determine the dosage of chemotherapy requirement and its duration.


Immunotherapy is a relatively new mesothelioma treatment option. It works by strengthening the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells. In immunotherapy, drugs are to stimulate the production of certain immune cells that can recognize and kill cancer cells. Immunotherapy is usually in combination with other mesothelioma treatment options.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is a mesothelioma treatment option that focuses on improving the quality of life for patients. This treatment option is usually a recommendation for patients in the later stages of mesothelioma. Palliative care may include pain management, emotional support, and spiritual support.

Alternative Treatment Methods

In combination with conventional treatment, alternative methods may help ease pain or side effects that treatment may cause. However, they are not a cure on their own. Always consult a doctor before trying any natural or alternative treatment options. Patients may try acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga, massage therapy, music therapy, art therapy or meditation. These may help minimize some of the psychological complications that mesothelioma may cause, such as anxiety or depression.


The U.S. Department of Labor has specific departments responsible for regulating safety procedures in occupations that increase the risk of asbestos exposure. These include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). These administrations set guidelines to keep employees in these occupations safe, as well as their families and nearby communities. However, if an employee is concerned about asbestos exposure in the workplace, they should speak to their employers and their employee health and safety representative.

Supplements for Overall Health


Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a spice that is widely used in Indian cuisine. Studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties, which make it an effective supplement for mesothelioma patients. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology found that curcumin can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy in treating mesothelioma. Curcumin supplements are widely available in health food stores and online.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for mesothelioma patients. According to a study published in the journal Cancer, vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of mesothelioma. Vitamin D supplements can help boost your immune system and reduce the risk of infections. You can get vitamin D from sun exposure or from supplements.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that omega-3 supplements can reduce inflammation and improve lung function in mesothelioma patients. Fish oil supplements are widely available in health food stores and online.


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut. They help balance our gut microbiome and boost our immune system. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, probiotics can reduce inflammation and improve immune function in cancer patients. Probiotics supplements are widely available in health food stores and online.


Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and other important functions in the body. Melatonin supplements are to support sleep, reduce stress, and improve overall health. Studies suggest that melatonin may also have anti-cancer properties. However, speak to your health care provider before using melatonin supplements.

Green Tea

Green tea is rich in antioxidants that can improve your overall health. A study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that green tea can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy in treating this cancer. Green tea supplements are widely available in health food stores and online here at


Antioxidants are compounds that help to protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules present in your body. They can damage your cells and lead to the development of several diseases, including cancer. Antioxidants help by neutralizing these free radicals, reducing cell damage, and potentially reducing cancer risk. You can get antioxidants from a variety of foods and supplements such as green tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Consult with your doctor before starting an antioxidant supplement.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a herb that is known for its liver-supporting properties. It can help detoxify the liver which is important since treatment can be hard on your liver. Milk thistle can also help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. It can be taken as a milk thistle supplement or added to your diet by drinking milk thistle tea.


Astragalus is a herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It can help reduce stress and improve energy levels. It can also support your immune system which is important when fighting this cancer. Astragalus can be taken as a supplement or added to your diet by drinking astragalus tea.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom is a type of mushroom that has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. It can boost your immune system and help reduce inflammation. Reishi mushroom can be taken as a supplement or added to your diet by drinking reishi mushroom tea.

The Bottom Line

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that develops from long-term exposure to asbestos, typically in the workplace. Asbestos causes damage to cells, mutating them and turning them cancerous. Then the cells spread through the body and affects other organs. Its main symptoms include fluid buildup in the lungs, chest pain, severe coughing and difficulty breathing.

It is usually a terminal disease. However, early diagnosis may produce a more positive prognosis and a longer life expectancy. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Patients may also try alternative treatment options like yoga or aromatherapy. In addition, taking natural supplements may also support patients’ health with a doctor’s approval in combination with conventional treatment. 

Herbal supplements can help you fight mesothelioma by boosting your immune system, reducing inflammation, and improving energy levels. They are a safe and natural way to support your body during treatment. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medication. With the right supplements and a healthy diet, you can help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. So, add these herbal supplements to your diet and boost your immune system!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: James D