Important information

A person with suspected mesothelioma should be referred to a specialist with experience treating mesothelioma (usually a respiratory physician) who is a member of a relevant multidisciplinary team.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer that starts in the thin membrane that covers the lungs and lines the chest wall (pleura). Less often it can start in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).

People who have been exposed to asbestos are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma.

Graphic of a human body highlighting the lungs


What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose mesothelioma include:

  • physical examination
  • blood test
  • imaging - x-ray, CT scan or PET scan
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • bronchoscopy
  • biopsy
  • pleural or peritoneal aspiration.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for mesothelioma may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy.

If treatment is specialised and complex, patients may need to travel to have a part of their treatment. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this.


How common is mesothelioma in NSW?

Mesothelioma was diagnosed in:

  • 2015
    244 people in NSW
  • 2014
    235 people in NSW
  • 2013
    225 people in NSW
Data source: Cancer statistics NSW portal (sourced from Institute Data Warehouse, Cancer Institute NSW. Available at:

Last updated: 21 February 2019