Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is cancer of the membrane that protects and lubricates your lungs, abdominal organs, and heart. This membrane is called the mesothelium. Types of mesothelioma are categorized by the area of the body that is affected.

Pleural mesothelioma - the lungs

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, making up about 75% of all cases. Understandably, people who are not very familiar with mesothelioma often believe that pleural mesothelioma is simply lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, but it is actually something different. Lung cancer is cancer of the lung tissue. Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the lining around the lungs, called the pleura.

As you inhale asbestos fibers they collect in your lungs. They are very tiny and sharp, and eventually, work their way into the lining. There they shred the mesothelium causing inflammation and eventually cancerous tumors. The pleural fluid thickens, reducing lung movement. The tumors themselves constrict the lungs making breathing very difficult, and put pressure on the ribs causing severe pain.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can mimic the symptoms of common, less serious health problems, including asthma, smoker's cough, and bruised ribs. These symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath after exertion
  • Difficulty breathing at rest
  • Rasping
  • Persistent coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Peritoneal mesothelioma - the abdomen and testicles

The protective lining of your abdominal cavity and internal organs is called the peritoneum. Mesothelioma affecting this part of the body is called peritoneal mesothelioma. A rare form of peritoneal mesothelioma, called tunica vaginalis testis, affects the testicles by invading an outpouching of the peritoneum, which covers the scrotum.

Asbestos fibers in the air can make their way into your food and drinks. When you ingest the fibers they can penetrate the stomach lining and work their way into the peritoneum. Again, they shred this protective lining, causing inflammation and eventually cancerous tumors. These tumors interfere with the lubrication your digestive organs need to work properly. They also exert pressure on your organs causing extreme pain. Fluid accumulation in the abdomen area causes swelling, abdominal pain, and, in some cases, shortness of breath and coughing.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects digestion and can affect breathing. Symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight lost
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Anemia
  • Blood clotting abnormalities

Pericardial mesothelioma

The pericardium is the protective membrane around the heart. It lubricates the heart so it can beat properly. Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common of the three primary types of mesothelioma.

Fibers which are inhaled can be passed into the bloodstream, and move to the heart. In the heart they can penetrate through, into the protective sac, which they shred causing inflammation and cancerous tumors. This interferes with the lubrication of the heart, causes the tissue around the heart to expand, and fluid to accumulate. The fluid accumulation causes chest pain, palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma

Like all forms of mesothelioma, symptoms can take decades to appear, and by the time they are noticeable the damage is already done. By the time symptoms become noticeable the damage is usually irreparable. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent coughing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness, please contact one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers today, or click here for a free case review.