What Is Mesothelioma?

mesotheliomaMost people are at least basically familiar with mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer that is most frequently causes by exposure to asbestos. However, did you know that there are actually many different types of mesothelioma?

Each type tends to focus on different areas of the body, and the prognosis and treatments for different mesothelioma can vary slightly. Below, you'll find descriptions on a few of the different variations of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Similarities

Before discussing the differences, it may be helpful to discuss the similarities between different types of mesothelioma. The cancer gets its name because it effects the mesothelium, which is a membrane that surrounds and covers the lungs, heart, abdomen and also covers some parts of human internal reproduction organs. All types of mesothelioma affect one or more of these membranes, causing them to develop dangerous cells, which can then spread and effect important organs.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma

The most common type among mesotheliomas is epithelioid mesothelioma. The most common cause of this type is exposure to asbestos. The cancer can actually take anywhere between 20 to 45 years to develop, so those who may have been exposed may have no indication of the danger they face.

Epithelioid mesothelioma makes up the majority of mesothelioma cases, accounting for about 60% of all mesothelioma cases. The epithelial, or skin cells associated with the mesothelium, are not only related to the mesothelium's structure but also its ability to secrete a lubricating fluid that facilitates the movement of organs in relation to each other within the body.

Most of the time, epithelioid mesothelioma develops in the lungs, or pleural cavity. However, in certain rare cases, people can develop pericardial mesothelioma, which occurs in the area around the heart. Pericardial mesothelioma make up about 5% of the total diagnosed cases. The prognosis for this type of cancer is especially bad, since the tumors are usually so close to the heart.

Other Types Of Mesothelioma

The other major types of mesothelioma include peritoneal and papillary mesothelioma. The former type develops in the membrane around the abdominal cavity, while the latter tends to occur around the internal reproductive organs. Curiously, these two types of the cancer do not have any explicit link to asbestos. While most asbestos cases occur in men, these two types are more likely to occur in middle-aged women. The prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is often quite bad, whereas many papillary mesothelioma end up being benign and sometimes even painless.