Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is referred to by different names, depending on what part of the body it is found. In the abdomen it is called the peritoneum, in the lungs it is referred to as the pleura, and in the heart it is the pericardium. These correspond to peritoneum mesothelioma (cancer of the abdomen/stomach), pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining) and pericardium mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma – Cancer of the Lung Lining

Pleural mesothelioma, pleura mesothelioma or malignant pleural mesothelioma is mesothelioma cancer in the lining of the lungs. This is different from lung cancer, which refers to any type of malignant tumor that originates in the lungs.

The pleura is essentially the tissue lining or covering surrounding the lung. There are two layers of pleura. These can be called pleural membranes and are fibrous sheets that help protect the lungs. The gap between the pleural membranes is called the pleural space. They produce a lubricating fluid that fills the gap between the pleural membranes. This helps the lungs to move smoothly in the chest when they are inflating and deflating as we breathe. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for 80-90 percent of mesothelioma cases.

Peritoneum Mesothelioma

Peritoneum mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma is mesothelioma cancer in the lining that surrounds the abdomen (stomach). Diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is mesothelioma in the lining that surrounds the abdomen (stomach). Diffuse is when the cancer spreads out to other parts of the body.

Peritoneal or peritoneum is a smooth membrane, which lines the cavity of the abdomen (stomach). The peritoneum is the tissue lining in the abdomen. It helps to protect the contents of the abdomen. It also produces a lubricating fluid. This helps the organs to move smoothly inside the abdomen as we move. Peritoneum mesothelioma accounts for approximately 10 percent of mesothelioma cases.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardium mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining that surrounds the heart.

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are:

  • Chest pain
  • Dyspnea
  • Cough
  • Palpitations

Although there appears to be a strong link to asbestos exposure, a definite association has not been established due to the rarity of this lesion. Pericardial mesothelioma can be treated with radiation therapy.

Pericardial effusion is the collection of fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart, a possible sign of cancer as well as many other conditions. When it is caused by mesothelioma, it can be a result of either direct spread of cancer from adjacent organs like the lung, or by metastatic spread from other parts of the body.

Pericardial masses are the most common, primarily a congenital celomic cyst. Benign and malignant pericardial solid masses are equally common. Teratoma and malignant mesothelioma are the most common solid masses. Secondary malignancies are far more common than primary with 70 percent due to its spread from lung, breast and lymphoproliferative disorders. Although primary tumors more commonly affect the myocardium than the pericardium, the reverse is true of secondary tumors. In patients with pericardial metastases, approximately 25 percent have reduced cardiac function and tamponade is the most common cause of death.

CT scan features masses that may elucidate their etiology and include the morphology, location, extent, cyst or solid character, their effect on cardiac chambers as well as the enhanced characteristics and the amount of extracardiac disease. The CT scan's ability to evaluate the whole thorax is increased in instances of malignancies.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma accounting for 80-90% of mesothelioma cases.

Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm speaks about the investigative process of asbestos exposure.