Malignant pleural mesothelioma often originates within the chest cavity and can, at times, involve the lung. This particular form of mesothelioma can metastasize to numerous organs in the body - even the brain - and tends to do so more frequently than not.
Pleural mesothelioma is not always easily detectable. Frequently, in the early stages of the disease, such as stage 1 mesothelioma, symptoms may be mild. Patients usually report pain in one area of the chest that never seems to go away, weight loss and fever. Occasionally, other symptoms are more severe and include problems with breathing due to fluid build up in the chest. A CT Scan of the chest area has proven to be the best test for identifying how far along the disease has progressed.
Frequently serum markers are used to diagnose of various forms of cancer. Mesothelioma cannot be diagnosed using this method as no serum markers currently exist. If high levels of hyaluronic acid are present it may be possible to distinguish mesothelioma types from other types of cancer or to determine the effectiveness of a treatment protocol.
The mesothelioma survival rate for patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma typically is not high as patients often do not live beyond seventeen months from the onset of symptoms. Only 8% of those with a mesothelioma diagnosis will live three to five years from the onset of mesothelioma symptoms.
Peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the abdomen and will frequently spread to other organs in area including the liver, spleen or bowel. Severe abdominal pain is the most common complaint that patients present to mesothelioma doctors. There may also be a discomfort level with fluid buildup in the abdomen as well. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include difficult bowel movements, nausea and vomiting, fever and swollen feet.
The survival rate is even worse for those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma with patients typically surviving only ten months from the time that they first started experiencing the symptoms noted above.
Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common form of mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma, as the name suggests, involves the heart. This rare type of mesothelioma cancer invades the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart. As the cancer progresses, the heart is not able to deliver oxygen as efficiently to the body causing further decline in health at an increasingly rapid rate. The symptoms most commonly associated with pericardial mesothelioma mimic those of a heart attack: nausea, pain in the chest and shortness of breath.
Types of Mesothelioma Tumors
Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer and of all asbestos related diseases, the most serious. The symptoms associated with the disease make it difficult for doctors to diagnose. Often, by the time that a proper diagnosis is made, the disease has progressed to a point where patients do not respond well to treatment therapy. Malignant mesothelioma is caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of airborne asbestos particles. Another unique factor associated with the disease is that there can be a long latency period between the time of asbestos exposure and the actual manifestation of the disease in the form of malignant mesothelioma.
Benign mesothelioma, or non-malignant mesothelioma, is much easier to treat than the malignant form of the cancer and can be treated successfully in many cases.
Mesothelioma Cell Types
Epithelial Mesothelioma is the most common cell type and accounts for approximately 50-75% percent of all diagnosed cases each year. These cells are uniform in shape, with an elongated pattern that makes them easily distinguishable when viewed under high magnification. These types ofcancercells are adenocarcinomas, malignancies which are more commonly associated with pure lung cancers as opposed to cancers of the mesothelium.
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is a less common cell type, accounting for between 7 and 20% of mesothelioma cases each year. These cells grow forth out of supportive structures, such as muscles and bones.
Biphasic mesotheliomas are those with a mix of epithelial and sarcomatoid cell types. Mesothelioma treatment options do not vary greatly for different cell types, but often sarcomatoid mesotheliomas are more difficult to treat as a result of the surrounding affected tissues that they spread from.
Papillary mesothelioma, also known as well-differentiated mesothelioma, is a form of the asbestos cancer that typically affects women. In many cases this cell type is benign and not likely to spread to other organs in the body.
Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America - Types of Mesothelioma