What is Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a rare but an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart and deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible.
The main purpose of the mesothelium is to produce a lubricating fluid that is released between layers. This fluid provides a slippery and protective surface to allow movement between tissues and organs. For example, it allows the lungs or abdomen to expand and contract smoothly.
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of your internal organs. It is made up of 2 layers. The inner layer wraps around different organs, including the lungs, heart, and stomach. The outer layer forms a sac around the inner layer. There is a small amount of fluid between the 2 layers so that the organs can move easily.
Like other cells of the body, mesothelial cells can also grow abnormally, leading to the development of tumors. The tumors of the mesothelial cells can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A malignant tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma. Because most mesothelial tumors are cancerous, malignant mesothelioma is often simply referred to as mesothelioma.
There are two major cell types of mesothelioma, epithelial and sarcomatoid. Sometimes both of these cell types can be present. The sarcomatoid type is rarer and occurs in only about 15% of cases; it portends a poorer prognosis. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can originate from benign, non-malignant cells. This so-called benign mesothelioma can be cured surgically.
When the cells of the mesothelium turn cancerous they become mesothelioma. There are approximately 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States every year. Sites of mesothelioma are typically the pleural cavity (outer lining of the lungs and chest wall) and peritoneal area (abdomen). Rare sites can also include the testis and the heart.
Doctors divide mesothelioma into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. Mesothelioma most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type is called pleural mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.
The mesothelium has different names, depending on where it is in the body. The mesothelium that protects and cushions the lungs is called the pleura. The inner layer that covers the lungs is called the visceral pleura. The outer layer that lines the inside wall of the chest is called the parietal pleura
Mesothelioma is an uncommon disease. The disease is more common in men of Caucasian and Hispanic ethnicity, and less common among Asian and African American men. The disease shows a male predominance, which is like due to occupational exposure.