Mesothelioma | Cancer



At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, you receive leading-edge mesothelioma care. We provide the latest groundbreaking treatments.

Medically reviewed by David Tom Cooke, M.D. on Oct. 13, 2023.

Woman talking to a female doctor in a clinic.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive type of thoracic (chest) cancer. Usually, mesothelioma occurs in your pleura (lining of your lungs) and pericardium (lining of your heart). This cancer can also affect your peritoneum (lining in your abdomen).

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, you receive world-class care for mesothelioma. Our Thoracic Oncology Program is the largest and most comprehensive in the region. We are avid patient-centered researchers, providing the newest innovative tests and treatments.


Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma doesn’t always cause symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms may vary from person to person depending on the size and location of the tumor.

Common Symptoms

The most common mesothelioma symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue and muscle weakness 
  • Fever 
  • Hoarse voice or cough that won’t go away 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Pain in your abdomen or the side of your chest 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Sweating more than usual 
  • Swelling in your abdomen, face or arms 
  • Trouble swallowing or feeling of something stuck in your throat 
  • Weight loss 

Causes of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma occurs when DNA in certain cells mutate (change) and divide out of control. This process may happen because of:

Asbestos Exposure

About 80% of people with mesothelioma have experienced asbestos exposure. You can breathe or swallow asbestos fibers, which damage the cells in your body.

Radiation Treatment

Some people may develop mesothelioma after having radiation therapy for another cancer, but this is rare.


Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Testing

Our team has years of expertise in diagnosing mesothelioma. We use our knowledge and skills to determine which tests you may need so you receive answers quickly.

If you have symptoms of mesothelioma or a known asbestos exposure, we will discuss your medical history and perform a physical exam. You may also need additional tests, such as:

Mesothelioma Treatments

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center provides exceptional care for mesothelioma. Our center is the only cancer center in inland northern California to receive the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation as a comprehensive cancer center. Our collaborative team of experts works together to create your customized treatment plan.

We offer the latest therapies for even the most complex mesothelioma cases, including treatments featured in clinical trials. Your treatment may include:


Our Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology specialists provide chemotherapy at our modern, comfortable infusion centers. You benefit from compassionate care that puts your well-being first.


Immunotherapy medications use your immune system to destroy mesothelioma cells. You may be eligible for the newest immunotherapies through our clinical trials.

Molecular Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are newer drugs that attack specific parts of the mesothelioma cells. Our specialists offer many of these groundbreaking treatments before they’re widely available.

Radiation Therapy

Our Radiation Oncology Program provides leading-edge radiation treatment. We specialize in combination treatments that offer new hope for people with difficult-to-treat cancers.


Our Division General Thoracic Surgery Program includes highly experienced surgeons specializing in thoracic cancers. U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the best programs in the nation for lung surgery.


Mesothelioma Prevention

You can significantly lower your risk of getting mesothelioma by avoiding asbestos exposure. Since you cannot see or smell asbestos, the best ways to prevent it are to:

Check Your Home

If you own a house built before 1980, hire a professional to test your air and home for asbestos.

Wear Protective Equipment

Many industries, including automotive, construction, manufacturing and plumbing, can be linked to asbestos exposure. Wear proper protective equipment on the job and follow your workplace safety procedures.

“What Causes Malignant Mesothelioma?” American Cancer Society, 

Who does it affect?

3KPeople in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year

Annual deaths

26KPeople worldwide died from mesothelioma in 2020

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology: Mesothelioma: Statistics

Request an Appointment

Our cancer specialists provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Learn more about how to make an appointment at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.



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