What are Different Types of Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is terminal, with no known cure. Its main cause is exposure to asbestos – a naturally occurring mineral that is dangerous when inhaled or ingested. Exposure to asbestos will not cause mesothelioma tumors or symptoms until years (often decades) later. The symptoms experienced by the victim, as well as the treatments available and prognosis, will depend on the type of mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the thin tissue that lines the lungs, called the pleura. This type of cancer impacts the chest cavity. It is different from lung cancer in that it affects the lining of the lungs rather than the lungs themselves. Asbestos can cause pleural mesothelioma from particles getting lodged in the lining of the lungs when breathed in through the mouth or nose. Over time, these particles can irritate the surrounding area and cause scar tissue, which can eventually turn into malignant tumors.
Common symptoms associated with pleural mesothelioma are:
- Persistent cough
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
Malignant pleural mesothelioma can cause the lining around the lungs to thicken, affecting how the lungs expand and contract. It can also cause fluid to accumulate in the chest cavity, further compressing the lungs and making it difficult to breathe. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. Although there is no cure, treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can add years to a patient’s life.
The second most common type of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma. This affects the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the peritoneum. It can be caused by ingesting particles of asbestos or from the spread of pleural mesothelioma from the lungs to the abdominal cavity through the lymphatic system.
Common symptoms associated with peritoneal mesothelioma are:
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal swelling or bloating
- Fluid collecting in the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
In general, peritoneal mesothelioma has a better prognosis and more favorable life expectancies than other types of mesothelioma. The most common treatment is surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This treatment plan has a life expectancy of at least 5 years for 52 percent of patients.
Pericardial mesothelioma is extremely rare, with under 200 total cases reported in medical history. It describes asbestos-related tumors forming in the lining around the heart (the pericardium). Pericardial mesothelioma may cause symptoms such as persistent cough, trouble breathing, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. It can also lead to a buildup of fluid in the pericardium. Symptoms are often severe and noticeable even in the early stages of this disease. Due to the location of the cancer near the heart, most treatments for pericardial mesothelioma are palliative, meaning they are meant to improve the patient’s comfort rather than treat the disease.
The rarest type of mesothelioma is testicular mesothelioma. Diagnosed in less than 1 percent of cases, this is cancer of the lining that surrounds the testes (the tunica vaginalis). Testicular mesothelioma typically presents symptoms such as testicular pain, a painless lump or mass on the affected testicle, and scrotal swelling from fluid buildup. This type of cancer often has a more favorable prognosis than other types of mesothelioma, but a high rate of recurrence.
What to Do if You’ve Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any type of mesothelioma, contact a personal injury attorney in New Jersey who handles these types of cases as soon as possible. You and your family may be eligible for financial compensation from the person or party that originally exposed you to asbestos, such as an employer or property owner. Even if that party is deceased, bankrupt or no longer exists, you may still be able to recover compensation through a mesothelioma trust fund. Discuss your case in more detail with an attorney today.