Types of Mesothelioma

There are four types of mesothelioma, including pleural (lungs), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (heart) and testicular. Most mesothelioma cases occur in the pleura (lungs). This reflects that asbestos typically enters the body after being inhaled.

According to Cancer Research UK’s data, which covers 2010-2012:

  • 89% of mesothelioma cases occur in the lining of the lungs (the pleura).
  • 3% of mesothelioma cases occur in the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen).
  • Less than 1% of mesothelioma cases occur in the pericardium (lining of the heart).
  • 8% of mesothelioma cases are either unspecified or classed as ‘other.’

Below we discuss the four main types of mesothelioma in detail.

Pleural mesothelioma

The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that develops in 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. The pleura produces a lubricating fluid that helps the lungs to move smoothly as we breathe in and out.

When mesothelioma develops in the pleura, the layers of the pleura thicken and press on the lung. Fluid also collects between the layers (known as a pleural effusion).

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include:

  • Chest pain;
  • Breathlessness;
  • Fever;
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss;
  • Back and shoulder pain;
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue).

Peritoneal mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is far less common than pleural mesothelioma and accounts for around 3-5% of mesothelioma cases.

This form of mesothelioma grows in the tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen (tummy) – known as the 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 (called ascites). This collection of fluid causes the abdomen to swell.

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:

  • Abdominal pain;
  • Swelling;
  • Bloating;
  • Bowel changes;
  • Extreme exhaustion (fatigue).

Generally, people with peritoneal mesothelioma have a better prognosis than those with pleural mesothelioma.

Pericardial mesothelioma:

Pericardial mesothelioma grows in the tissue that lines the heart and is a very rare form of cancer. There have only been around 200 cases of this cancer recorded in medical literature.

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Irregular heartbeat;
  • Chest pain;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Persistent cough.

Testicular mesothelioma:

Testicular mesothelioma grows in the tissue that lines the testicles and is extremely rare. Only around 100 cases of this form of mesothelioma have been recorded in medical literature. Unlike for other forms of mesothelioma, many people who develop testicular mesothelioma have no history of asbestos exposure.

For this form of the cancer, surgery may be more successful and involves removing the affected testicle and spermatic cord.

Symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include:

  • Scrotal swelling;
  • Painless lumps.

How can we help?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to claim compensation. We offer free initial advice about this – speak to us today using the livechat button below or by calling 0800 038 6767. You can also fill in our contact form here, and a member of our team will be in touch.