Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects a layer of protective tissue that protects many organs, but is most common in the tissue that surrounds the lungs and pleural cavity. The condition leads to numerous pleural effusions. Although it has several causes, exposure to asbestos leads to a much higher risk of the disease. The condition is very difficult to treat and requires aggressive therapy. However, it is also difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are prosaic and common to numerous other conditions, radiology is not definitive, and getting a proper biopsy sample is difficult. In additiion, the disease may present up to fifty years after an asbestos exposure, making it important to obtain a proper medical history.
One of the notable persons who was affected by the condition was actor Steve McQueen. He died while being treated for the disease.