Saturday, November 14, 2009

Types of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is caused by long-term, repeated exposure to asbestos fibers. The disease is generally found in four different forms: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular. In each case, the cancer develops in mesothelial cells, which form the membranous linings that surround and protect organs. The different names for each type of mesothelioma refer to the point of origin of the cancer.

Mesothelioma can attack the pleural lining around the lungs. It can also attack the peritoneum, a tissue that surrounds the GI tract. Mesothelioma can attack the stomach lining, other internal organs, or even the pericardium (the tissue sac covering the heart). Thus, mesothelioma can be generally classified into the following types:

  • Pleural — 75% of all mesothelioma cases
  • Peritoneal — 10%–20%
  • Pericardial — 5%

Mesothelioma can also be classified by the cancer type rather than the location of the cancer:

  • Epithelioid — most common, best survival rate
  • Sarcomatoid — most severe, but more rare
  • Mixed/biphasic — a mixture of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cancer

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