Types of Mesothelioma
There are four main types of mesothelioma, with the most common forms affecting the lining of the lungs or abdominal cavity. Each type indicates the area of the body where the cancer originates. When mesothelioma begins to develop, the mesothelial lining around the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles may be affected. These types of mesothelioma are known as pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular mesothelioma. The percentage of cases diagnosed for each type is represented below.
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the mesothelial lining of the lungs, known as the pleura. Approximately 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases are of the pleural type. Although symptoms may vary, the most common pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Persistent Dry Cough
- Persistent Chest Pain
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Night Sweats / Fever
Treatment for pleural mesothelioma largely depends on the stage of the cancer. In early diagnosed cases, potentially curative surgery may be an option for patients. Most treatments are palliative and aim to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the mesothelial lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum. About 10 to 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses are of the peritoneal type and symptoms typically include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Abdominal Swelling
- Weight Loss
- Nausea / Vomiting
- Constipation or Diarrhea
Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma may note symptoms that result from the thickening of the peritoneal membrane and the build-up of fluid. Because peritoneal mesothelioma metastasizes more quickly than other types of mesothelioma, treatment may be difficult.
Pericardial mesothelioma develops on the exterior lining of the heart, known as the pericardium. This type of mesothelioma is rare and accounts for about 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Symptoms develop when fluid builds up in the spaces between the layers of the pericardial membrane and may include:
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Breathing
- Night Sweats / Fever
As with other types of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma is most commonly treated with palliative measures. Surgical removal of pericardial tumors is risky because of the close proximity to the heart.
Testicular mesothelioma affects the lining of the testes. Less than 1 percent of mesothelioma cases are made up of this type of mesothelioma and many patients are diagnosed while receive surgery or treatment for another condition. Due to the rarity of the disease, it has been difficult for medical researchers to develop a comprehensive list of symptoms. The two main indicators of this cancer are thought to be testicular lumps and swelling of the scrotum. This form of mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed until lumps develop.
Testicular mesothelioma patients may undergo a surgery to remove all or part of the affected testicle. Adjuvant therapy may be recommended, in which case the patient will also obtain chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.
All types of mesothelioma can be diagnosed through similar procedures, such as imaging scans, biopsies and blood tests. Diagnostic techniques for mesothelioma include:
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