Types of Mesothelioma

There are several different types of mesothelioma, including pleural (lungs), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (heart) and testicular. However, the two main types of mesothelioma are pleural and peritoneal, which account for almost 90 percent of all diagnoses.

Pleural mesothelioma

The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that develops on the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura.

The pleura is made up of two layers of tissue: the outer (parietal) layer which lines the chest wall and the inner (visceral) layer which covers the lungs. These tissues produce a lubricating fluid that help the lungs move smoothly as we breathe in and out.

When mesothelioma develops in the pleura the delicate layers of the pleura thicken and press inwards on the lung. Fluid also collects between the two layers, which is known as a pleural effusion.

While the presence of a little fluid in your pleural space is important, too much of it can make breathing difficult. The extra fluid puts pressure on the lungs causing chest pains that worsen when you cough or take deep breaths.

Peritoneal mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is far less prevalent than pleural mesothelioma, accounting for just 1 in every 10 mesothelioma cases.

Peritoneal mesothelioma grows in the tissue lining the inside of the abdomen (tummy), known as peritoneum.

The peritoneum helps to protect the organs within the abdomen and keeps them in place. It also has two layers: the inner (visceral) layer which is next to the abdominal organs and the outer (parietal) layer which lines the abdominal wall.

When mesothelioma develops in the peritoneum it causes it to thicken and leads to a collection of fluid in the abdomen. This collection of fluid is called ascites and causes the abdomen to swell.