There are 3 major types of mesothelioma, and 1 additional rare type. Read below to learn about each type.

Overview Of Mesothelioma Types

Mesothelioma, a dangerous and deadly form of cancer that’s caused by exposure to asbestos, exists in many forms. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. However, there are other forms of this disease that are just as vital to know about if you’re concerned about potential asbestos exposure. In addition to the pleural form which affects the lining around the lungs, other mesothelioma types include pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular.

Pleural Mesothelioma

lungsPleural Mesothelioma forms in the soft tissue protecting the lungs, called the pleura, when large amounts of asbestos are inhaled. Trapped fibers in and around the lungs cause an extreme reaction which can trigger the pleural cells to mutate. These abnormal cells reproduce quickly and become malignant tumors. This is the most common form of mesothelioma and accounts for 75% of all diagnosed cases.

The majority of patients are elderly men who have worked in the construction industry and have been exposed to unusually high amounts of asbestos over the course of many years. Most do not experience any symptoms, but shortness of breath and hard coughing are known symptoms that indicate infection. Because of the nature of the disease, pleural mesothelioma is often mistaken for a common cold or a respiratory infection until a tumor is found in more advanced stages of cancer. These tumors cause painful breathing, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and frequent, productive, bloody coughing called hemoptysis.

For those coping with pleural mesothelioma, the chances of recovery can seem very slim, but many people are advised to proceed with treatment. Forty percent of people who are diagnosed live for a year or more following diagnosis, with ten percent living longer than three years. There are many aggressive treatment options to combat this rare form of cancer including chemotherapy, surgery, and alternative medicine. Some promising new forms of treatment involve implanting radioactive capsules at the site of the tumor, laser therapy, or other methods which are still in clinical trials.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

heartSimilar to pleural mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma forms in the soft tissue that covers and protects an organ. However in this case the heart is the organ affected. Pericardial mesothelioma is quite a bit more rare, only accounting for 1% of diagnosed cases, and it is unclear how the harmful asbestos fibers reach the heart. It is speculated that once the fibers are lodged in the heart’s membrane, the body may not notice it for some time. Slowly, the body will begin to react and form malignant tumors and fluid pockets in the space between the pericardium and the outside of the heart. This process can take up to five decades to become a major, life-threatening problem.

Pericardial mesothelioma is just as deceptively difficult to diagnose as pleural mesothelioma, and can be misinterpreted as a cholesterol problem, artery blockage, or a heart attack. Those with this rare form of mesothelioma will experience chest pains, difficulty breathing, fever, or an irregular heartbeat. Pericardial mesothelioma can be so tricky to diagnose that, as much as 80 percent of time, it is not discovered until after death during an autopsy.

Those who face this disease can expect many challenges. Because of the location of the cancer it’s very rare that a patient is a good candidate for surgery. More often than not chemotherapy is the best option available.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Human Digestive SystemTesticular mesothelioma is extremely rare. The mesothelioma affects the soft tissue that lines the testicle. Testicular mesothelioma is considered one of the strangest diseases in the medical world because, unlike its cousins, most people diagnosed have no history of exposure or ingestion of asbestos. However, asbestos fibers are still found at the site of the cancer. The body’s natural reaction to attack the foreign fibers causes inflammation and an overgrowth of abnormal cells, which eventually cause mesothelioma.

This disease is so uncommon that it has only ever been diagnosed during surgery. More often than not, a patient will notice fluid retention in one testicle, but will not experience much pain or discomfort.

Despite the rarity of this medical mystery, the survival rate of this disease is much higher that other mesothelioma types, and sufferers can live up to 15 years after diagnosis. Treatment normally involves the surgical removal of the infected testicle. Following surgery, a patient will likely be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy in order to kill any remaining malignant cells and reduce the risk of metastases, or tumors appearing in other areas of the body.

Mesothelioma Types – Conclusion

While all of these different mesothelioma types are unique, with differing symptoms and prognoses, they all share one thing in common: asbestos. If you’re concerned that you’ve been exposed to asbestos over the course of your life, regardless of how long ago it was or how brief your exposure, you could be at risk for one of these serious forms of cancer. You don’t have to face down this disease alone, there are many resources available for victims of asbestos exposure.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, let our patient advocates help you get the best care available. If you need free assistance with finding doctors, the best treatment centers, financial assistance, or more detailed mesothelioma information, contact us today. We are here to help.