Mesothelioma is a type of cancer closely linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos, a natural mineral used in construction until the 1970s, is strong, fibrous, and absorbs heat. When inhaled, it can become lodged in the lungs, causing one of three types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial.
Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lungs. Specifically, it forms in the pleura, a thin layer of skin that surrounds and protects the lungs. One of the early indicators of pleural mesothelioma is a condition known as pleural calcification – a thickening of the membrane that can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
Pleural mesothelioma can take decades to develop, and some people don't exhibit any symptoms for 10, 20 or even 30 years. Unfortunately, if the cancer isn't caught in time, it can spread to other parts of the body, including the abdomen and heart. People who regularly inhaled asbestos over long periods of time have the greatest risk of developing this form of mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the abdomen. Like pleural mesothelioma, the cancer affects the thin wall surrounding the organ. Overall, the condition is less common than pleural mesothelioma but poses many of the same risks. This form of cancer may not develop for several years, and symptoms may be slow to present.
In addition, there is a risk that the cancer will spread to other organs, such as the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty with bowel movements.
The third type of mesothelioma is pericardial, or cancer of the heart. It affects the pericardium, the thin membrane that protects the heart. As the cancer progresses, it restricts the movement of the heart, preventing it from supplying your body with enough blood. Symptoms are similar to pleural mesothelioma and include shortness of breath and chest pain. Pericardial is the rarest form of mesothelioma, affecting only 10 percent of mesothelioma patients.
This form of cancer is extremely rare, affecting about 100 men within the last 50 years. Not much is known about this form of mesothelioma, other than the fact that it forms in the membrane surrounding the testicular. Sometimes, it is mistaken for testicular cancer, although it has different kinds of cancer cells.
What Is The Treatment For These Cancers?
Though the types of mesothelioma and their symptoms vary, prognosis and treatment are similar. As with any cancer, the prognosis improves the earlier they are diagnosed. Because mesothelioma affects such delicate parts of the body, radiation and chemotherapy are the most common treatments.
Questions About The Types of Mesothelioma?
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, talk to your doctor to see if one of these types of mesothelioma is a possibility. Also, remember that we can help. Fill out the form on this page, and we will send you a mesothelioma packet that contains helpful information. We're on your side.