Medicine (MD/DO)
Lung Cancer

Master Mesothelioma with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.


Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Adenocarcinoma of the Lung
picmonic thumbnail
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Lung
picmonic thumbnail
Small Cell (Oat Cell) Carcinoma
picmonic thumbnail
Large Cell Carcinoma
picmonic thumbnail
Bronchial Carcinoid Tumor


Mesothelioma is a malignant pleural tumor that most commonly results from asbestos exposure. It presents with dyspnea and decreased breath sounds on auscultation as well as constitutional B symptoms. Mesothelioma can be identified on imaging by the presence of a hemorrhagic pleural effusion or pleural thickening. Biopsy of the pleura may reveal Psammoma bodies that stain positive for calretinin. Treatment can include surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Malignant Pleural Tumor
Malignant-man with Pearl and Tumor-guy

Mesothelioma is a tumor of mesothelial cells, derived from mesoderm. It is a malignancy found in the body's serous cavities. These cavities include the pleura (87% cases), peritoneum (11% cases), pericardium (<1% cases), and testis (<1% cases). The main function of these cells is to protect the inner organ by providing a slippery and non-adhesive surface. Mesothelioma can technically occur anywhere there are mesothelial cells.

Asbestos Exposure
Exposed to Ass-best-toes

Asbestos is carcinogenic, and exposure can increase the risk of mesothelioma. Occupations associated with asbestos are logging, machinery mechanics, shipbuilding, mining, construction, plumbing, and roofing. Mesothelial cells are more responsive to asbestos cytotoxicity, resulting in chronic inflammation. This process is related to mineral fiber buildup in tissues and mutagenic oxygen radicals production.


Mesothelioma commonly causes patients to seek medical attention because of dyspnea. This can occur due to pleural effusion, which can reduce the lung's ability to expand naturally.

Decreased Breath Sounds
Down-arrow Muffled Lungs

The presence of pleural effusion in mesothelioma patients leads to decreased breath sounds on auscultation.

Constitutional B Symptoms
Constitution (B) Bee

Other symptoms patients can also complain about are dry cough, fatigue, non-pleuritic chest pain, weight loss, and fatigue. Night sweats and fever are seen less frequently. Worsening of symptoms develops along with the progression of the disease. These constellation of symptoms are known as constitutional B symptoms.

Hemorrhagic Pleural Effusion
Hemorrhage-hammer with Pearl holding E-fuse Fluid

Pleural effusion can be seen in > 90% of mesothelioma cases. It is often exudative and hemorrhagic. Thoracentesis is performed to relieve the patient's symptoms and collect the fluid for cytological examination.

Pleural Thickening
Thick Pearl

Pleural thickening is seen in more than 50% of chest X-rays of patients with mesothelioma. This is often due to pleural nodules that may be calcified thus thickening the thin membranes.

Psammoma Bodies

Psammoma bodies are a form of dystrophic calcification characterized by a lamellated concentric calcified structure. It occurs as a product of tumor cell degeneration and secretions. Psammoma bodies can also be seen in papillary thyroid carcinoma, somatostatinoma, meningioma, ovarian serous papillary cystadenocarcinoma, and prolactinoma.


Calretinin is a calcium-binding protein in neurons that is overexpressed in mesothelioma patients. After pleural fluid cytologic analysis, cytoplasmic and nuclear staining will reveal a "fried-egg" appearance, which is characteristic for mesothelial cells. Thoracoscopic-guided biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosis, but pleural fluid analysis is less invasive.


Surgery is limited to early-stage mesothelioma patients with good functional status. Treating symptoms and relieving the patient from their pleural effusion is necessary. A single treatment has not shown an improvement in survival. Combination therapy is recommended with other treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.


For some mesothelioma patients, chemotherapy is the best option. The first chemotherapy choice in unresectable mesothelioma is cisplatin with pemetrexed. Carboplatin is used to substitute cisplatin in elderly patients.


Take the Mesothelioma Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,890,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.