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Mesothelioma starts in the cells of the mesothelium, which covers and protects most of your internal organs. It is made up of 2 layers. Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer.

There are different types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural mesothelioma starts in the pleura (membrane that covers the lungs and lines the chest cavity). This type makes up 70% to 80% of all mesotheliomas.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the peritoneum (membrane that lines the inside of the abdomen and covers many of the organs in the abdomen). This type makes up about 25% of all mesotheliomas.

To learn more about Mesothelioma, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

What’s on this Page

You will find Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) information, resources and tools for:

  • patients, families and caregivers
  • anyone interested in mesothelioma cancer
  • healthcare providers

You will also find links to other organizations that provide information related to mesothelioma.


Protect Yourself from Asbestos

Asbestos is a type of mineral used in some products like brake pads, some types of insulation and cement. It can become harmful when disturbed or damaged, releasing fibres into the air, such as during a renovation. Visit Government of Canada to learn more about asbestos, its health risks and how to avoid exposure.

Exposure to asbestos in the workplace is the most common cause of mesothelioma. In Canada, there are about 430 cases of mesothelioma caused by asbestos every year. If you were exposed to asbestos in your workplace, then you may be able to get help from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). For more information, go to People with Mesothelioma: Getting Workers’ Compensation.

To learn more about risk factors for Mesothelioma, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.


During diagnosis, a person may need many tests to confirm the cancer. Waiting for test results to come back can be stressful. Talk to your doctor about managing stress during this difficult time.

For more information about diagnostic tests for mesothelioma, you can visit the Canadian Cancer Society.


Treatment for mesothelioma will depend on:

  • the stage of cancer
  • which treatments and services the person chooses to have

Treatments may include:

  • surgery
  • drug therapy (chemotherapy)
  • radiation therapy
  • other treatment options
  • clinical drug trials

To learn more about types of mesothelioma treatment, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

Drug Therapy Information

You can learn more about specific cancer drugs using our patient information sheets. These provide information about cancer drug therapies, including what they are used for and how to manage side effects. To find patient information sheets, go to the Drugs page.

You can also see About Chemotherapy for general information about cancer drug therapy.

Quitting Smoking Can Help Your Treatment

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Whether you are scheduled to have surgery, radiation treatment or chemotherapy, quitting smoking can help your treatment work better. It also can reduce the chance of your cancer coming back or getting another form of cancer. For more information and resources, see Benefits of Quitting Smoking for People with Cancer.

Managing Symptoms and Side Effects

People with cancer may have symptoms related to their cancer or as a side effect of treatment.

Our symptom management guides explain:

  • how to recognize symptoms
  • what to do and what not to do
  • when to contact the person’s healthcare team

The guides are available for patients and for healthcare providers. Each patient guide also comes with links to helpful resources like courses, books, videos and worksheets.

Our side effect information sheets offer tips for people going through side effects from chemotherapy treatment.

If you are a person with cancer, please remember that it’s important to discuss any symptoms or concerns with your healthcare team.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are scientific studies that test the safety and effectiveness of a medical treatment. Find clinical trials in Canada.

Palliative Care

Palliative care supports people with life-threatening illness and their families. The goal of this care is to relieve suffering so people can have the best possible quality of life. Palliative care should start when a person is diagnosed with a serious illness.

To learn more, go to the Palliative Care page.

After Treatment

When treatment ends, a person moves into a new phase of their cancer experience. For many patients, a lot of the after-treatment care will be given by healthcare providers in the community, like a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

Follow-Up Care

Follow-up care is the care given after active treatment for mesothelioma is over. It focuses on:

  • helping the person recover from the cancer and treatments
  • finding cancer early if it comes back

To learn more about follow-up care, visit the Canadian Cancer Society.

Managing Ongoing Symptoms

A person may have symptoms from cancer for months or years after treatment has ended. These are called long-term effects or late effects.

If you have ongoing symptoms after being treated for cancer, you can find information on how to manage them in our Symptom and Side Effect Management guides.

End-of-Life Care

Each person has a different experience during their final months and days of life. Their symptoms may change as their illness continues, and their needs for information and support will be unique. Family members will also have questions, concerns and needs of their own.

If you are helping a family member through their final months of life, talk to your healthcare team about your questions and concerns as they come up. They can give you information and resources to support you and your family, and help you make decisions and plan for end-of-life care.

For more information, go to the Palliative Care page.


  • From 2012 to 2016, 1,147 cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed in Ontario and 816 people died from the disease.
  • From 2012 to 2016, among people with mesothelioma, men were 5 times more likely than women to die of the disease. (That is a rate of 2.5 out of 100,000 men compared with 0.5 out of 100,000 women.)
  • Among Ontarians, the rate of new cases of mesothelioma steadily increased at 2.3% per year from 1981 to 2006. Since then, the rate of increase for men has stabilized, but for women it has continued to grow.
  • People diagnosed with this cancer are 11.9% as likely to survive 5 years after diagnosis as similar people in the general population.