What you should know about the 4 types of mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma comes in 4 different types, each named for the part of the body it affects: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.

Mesothelioma – 4 typesSimpson Millar LLP's Emma Costin, an expert in industrial illness, says that while mesothelioma is known to be a devastating disease, much remains to be understood.

"To date comparatively little is known about certain types of this awful condition. But newly-revealed aspects of mesothelioma are already proving vital in caring for sufferers."

Here Emma describes the 4 variants of mesothelioma, their symptoms and what is so far known:

Pleural Mesothelioma


Mesothelioma's most common form affects some 75% of patients. Pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, or mesothelial lining of the lungs, and is caused by the inhalation of asbestos.

The usual symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are fatigue, shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, fever, difficulty swallowing, night sweats and persistent chest pain.

"Although your lungs normally deal naturally with foreign bodies, removing asbestos is another matter," notes Emma. "Due to the embedding of aggravating, needle-like fibres in the pleura lining, the lung becomes inflamed and scarred over time, and can lead to cancer."

Peritoneal Mesothelioma


This type of mesothelioma, which makes up around 20% of cases, develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum.

Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea and fatigue.

"Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma will usually have ingested asbestos, with the fibres getting trapped in the peritoneal membrane," says Emma. "It is uncertain precisely how the fibres cause changes in these mesothelial cells, and the process typically takes many years, but once malignancy becomes established the disease takes hold swiftly."

Pericardial Mesothelioma


Around 5% of mesothelioma cases are pericardial, which develops in the heart lining, or pericardium. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, chest pain, fatigue, difficulty breathing, coughing, night sweats and fever.

"As with the peritoneal variant, there are uncertainties with pericardial mesothelioma, and we're not sure how the disease process begins," says Emma. "However, research has indicated that it is possible they are carried through the bloodstream and metastise once they arrive. Cancerous cells eventually grow and divide, in due course causing tumours."

Testicular Mesothelioma


"Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of the disease," observes Emma. "Its sufferers make up less than 1% of mesothelioma cases. Unfortunately, its comparative rarity means we know little about its causes or even its symptoms. Usually it's found as a palpable tumour, but it is sometimes spotted during a hernia repair."

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