Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can be classified into two major groups, benign and malignant:

  • Benign mesothelioma is non-cancerous. (although cancerous cells can develop) Because it is non-cancerous, benign mesothelioma tumors do not spread to surrounding cells.
  • Malignant mesothelioma is organized into four main categories based on the location of the tumor:
    1. Pleural Mesothelioma – found in the chest cavity, on the surface of the lung and on the diaphragm,
    2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma – found in the abdomen on the surface of the omentum and visceral organs,
    3. Pericardial Mesothelioma – growing on the exterior surface of the pericardium, or lining of the heart
    4. Testicular Mesothelioma – noted as a thickening of the ducts and glands in the testes.

Rarely is mesothelioma diagnosed in both the pleural and peritoneal cavity, however, it may be found more often as the disease process progresses.

Subtypes and Variations of Mesothelioma Tumors

Each of these categories of mesothelioma is further divided into one of three subtypes:

Among the total spectrum of asbestos patients there are a smaller number of cases with different cancers, such as lung cancer and metastatic cancer of the liver, kidneys, bones and other organs. (m) In addition, sarcomatous varieties have been judged to be extremely aggressive, and can be associated with intracranial metastases – brain tumors. There are also benign mesothelial proliferations and well differentiated papillary mesothelioma that are of low malignant potential. The diagnosis should be confirmed by an experienced pathologist as in many cases a more virulent form of the disease can be mixed in with this seemingly benign process. In most cases these tumors are of low malignant potential and are treated only when they begin to cause symptoms and most often with surgery as a single modality.

The Mesothelioma Foundation is here to bring awareness to the effects of asbestos exposure and the existence of mesothelioma. Contact our nurse practitioner with questions about your mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment options.

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