Types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is diagnosed in up to 3,000 new cases in America each year. It is a relatively rare form of cancer with no known cure. Mesothelioma affects the mesothelium which is the protective lining of a variety of internal organs. Mesothelioma is subdivided into types which are an indication of where the cancer originated in the body.
Pleural mesothelioma usually originates in the chest cavity and lungs. This form of mesothelioma is the most common type of the disease and often spreads to other organ systems and lymph nodes throughout the body. Pleural mesothelioma is not detected easily, although it can sometimes be identified in the early stages. Patients may experience problems such as pain in a certain area of the chest that never seems to go away, as well as a fever and weight loss. Breathing problems may arise due to fluid buildup. The survival rate of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is low, and because the cancer is generally diagnosed in the later stages, prognosis is usually not favorable. According to the American Cancer Society a patient with pleural mesothelioma is given a survival rate 4-18 months after diagnosis.
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Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common form of mesothelioma. It affects the heart by occupying the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds a person’s heart. Pericardial mesothelioma makes it hard for a person’s heart to deliver oxygen to the rest of their body, which can lead to a rapid decline in health. Symptoms of this type of mesothelioma normally include nausea, shortness of breath, and pain in the chest.
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. However, it can spread to other organs outside the point of origin, including a patient’s bowels, spleen, and liver. Harsh abdominal pain is the most common symptom of peritoneal mesothelioma; this pain can be caused by fluid buildup within the abdomen. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, swollen feet, fever, and irregular bowel movements. The survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is also low, with patients usually only surviving approximately 10 months from the onset of symptoms.
Malignant Versus Benign Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. However, out of all of the illnesses and diseases that are caused by asbestos fibers, malignant mesothelioma is one of the most serious. Symptoms often mimic those of other diseases and often do not present until well after the onset of the disease. Treatments associated with malignant mesothelioma are usually palliative in nature rather than curative, meaning they are intended for symptom relief and improving the patient’s quality of life, but are not intended to cure the disease. On the other hand, benign mesothelioma is just as the name suggests, and is a non-malignant form of mesothelioma. It can sometimes be cancerous, however, the tumors are not likely to spread, making them easier to remove through traditional methods such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Other Types of Mesothelioma
Other types of mesothelioma include cancer that affects the pericardium, and testicular mesothelioma. Other forms of mesothelioma may also affect the ovaries in women, however, all of these rare forms of mesothelioma are hard to diagnose. Treatment depends on the stage of the patient’s cancer at the time of diagnosis.