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There are three main types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, the most common, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.
According to The National Cancer Institute, malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, in which cancer cells are found in the pleura, the sac lining the chest, in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or in the pericardium, the lining around the heart.
In this section, we will discuss pleural mesothelioma. Both peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma will be discussed in subsequent articles.
Pleural mesothelioma, like peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma, can be quite difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of mesothelioma mimic other diseases, including lung cancer. So it is critical to let your physician know if you have had a historical exposure to asbestos so that your physician can review your case history and can correctly identify any mesothelioma symptoms.
Over two-thirds of all cases of mesothelioma cancer have been identified as malignant pleural mesothelioma, making it the most common of all types of mesothelioma. This cancer attacks the area called the pleura or simply put…the lining of the lungs and the chest cavity. Pleural mesothelioma invades those cells that make up the lining inside the rib cage and the lining outside of the lungs.
Pleural mesothelioma can either be diffuse or widespread and cancerous or it could also be localized and benign. Usually not related to asbestos exposure, benign mesothelioma is generally not life-threatening and can often be removed surgically. However, malignant mesothelioma is quite serious and requires immediate and aggressive treatment.
With asbestos exposure being the primary culprit in the later development of particular types of mesothelioma, it is important to know your prior exposure history. Years ago, many factories and industrial plants exposed their workers to asbestos particles that the employees either inhaled or swallowed while working.
Because of the employers’ failure to provide their employees with a safe work environment, many of these employees are now seeking legal compensation and are working with mesothelioma lawyers to make certain they are financially provided for as they battle the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Once the workers inhaled or swallowed the asbestos dust, small particles of asbestos worked their way into the passages of the lungs and ultimately into the lining of the lungs. Once in the small passages of the lungs, these particles eventually developed into cancerous cells.
With the presence of cancerous cells, the lining of the lung or the pleura begins to thicken and excess fluid begins to gather as the cancerous cells continue to proliferate. As the pleura continues to thicken it gradually contracts the lungs resulting in shortness of breath.
This can often be the first symptom of pleural mesothelioma. But as you are well aware, shortness of breath could also indicate many other types of diseases, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma or even lung cancer. As the pleural thickening continues and as the excess fluid, pleural effusion, continues to build shortness of breath can continue to worsen.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common of all types of mesothelioma. It is usually malignant and requires aggressive treatment. So know your history…if you have a known prior exposure to asbestos, please see your physician today and ask to be screened for mesothelioma.