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Types of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects the mesothelium, the lining that surrounds the body’s internal organs. When asbestos fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, they can cause cells to become cancerous. The different types of mesothelioma are given different names depending on which organ’s lining is affected by cancerous cells.

Pleural mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma occurs when cancerous cells attack the lining of the lungs, which is known as the pleura. About 70-80% of all patients who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis are affected by this form of the disease.

The first sign of pleural mesothelioma may be shortness of breath during exercise, which can worsen as the tumor in the pleura spreads, causing the lining of the lungs to thicken and further restrict breathing. Other pleural mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain, coughing, weight loss, fever and difficulty swallowing.

Peritoneal mesothelioma
The peritoneum is the lining that surrounds the organs of the abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about 20% of patients affected with the disease. However, because this type of mesothelioma tends to be more invasive than other kinds, patients who are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma tend to have a shorter life expectancy.

Some of the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, nausea, poor appetite, swelling of the abdomen, weakness and weight loss. Because of the gradual onset of symptoms, many cases of peritoneal mesothelioma are diagnosed by chance before symptoms actually begin to appear.

Pericardial mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart, which is known as the pericardium. This form of the disease is very rare, affecting less than 1% of patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Early symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include chest pain, heart palpitations, coughing and shortness of breath.

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