The 3 Types of Mesothelioma, Explained

The 3 Types of Mesothelioma, Explained

Malignant mesothelioma is a somewhat rare cancer that develops on the tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen. It is contracted by exposure to asbestos. A combined approach to treatment is aiding patients improve their chances of survival and reducing symptoms.

Most companies have stopped the use of asbestos in industry because of the illness. However, a certain number of people are still contracting the illness due to the fact that it takes a long time after asbestos exposure for symptoms to appear.

What Are the Different Types of Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is the most diagnosed form of the illness. About 75% of all diagnoses are of this type. Peritoneal is the second most diagnosed form. About 10 to 20 percent of diagnoses are in this category. A small one percent of cases are of the pericardial type. Testicular mesothelioma accounts for less than one percent of all cases.

Pleural mesothelioma develops on the lining of the lungs. Current research is leading to better treatment and survival of this form of the illness. Someone diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is generally expected to have less than 18 months to live. However, some patients live much longer. It often takes between 20 and 50 years for the illness to develop after the actual exposure. This latency period explains why it is usually older people who are affected by the disease.

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the tissue around the abdominal cavity. It responds best to a mix of surgery and chemotherapy. This type of mesothelioma is also caused by asbestos exposure. Roughly 250 to 500 new cases of peritoneal mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart. Since it’s in a sensitive spot, it is the most difficult type of the illness to treat.

What Are the Common Mesothelioma Symptoms?

The symptoms can be so subtle that it is hard to recognize them. Many times, they don’t appear until much later stages of the illness. The symptoms that are common are:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain near the tumor
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid buildup
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Difficulty swallowing

Treatments for Mesothelioma

The main treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Many experts mix two or more of these treatments. This is called multimodal therapy. Clinical trials have demonstrated that this approach has increased survival. Palliative treatments are ones that ease the symptoms of the illness. Experimental therapies like immunotherapy are currently being researched.

  • Surgery – Curative surgery is used on patients with early stage mesothelioma. Palliative surgery can be used on patients to relieve symptoms if they are diagnosed at a later stage.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy kills cancerous cells, shrinks tumors, prevents recurrence, and relieves symptoms.
  • Radiation – Radiation therapy is used by itself or in combination with chemotherapy or surgery. It kills cancer cells, manages tumors, and prevents cancer from spreading at the location of a biopsy incision.

Mesothelioma Versus Lung Cancer

Mesothelioma and lung cancer are two completely different illnesses. Lung cancer attacks the inside of the lungs. Mesothelioma attacks the lining of the lungs. Some of the symptoms are similar in both illnesses, though.

While the prognosis of the illness isn’t great, nowadays its treatment seems to be increasing patients’ life spans. With the help of further research perhaps this illness can be reduced to an even more minor problem in the populace.