Complete Guide: All you need to know about Mesothelioma types, symptoms, treatment and funds


Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that forms and grows in cells found in the lining of internal organs in the body. This type of cancer is most detected in the chest lining and abdominal region. 

Cancer is likely to develop when cell growth becomes uncontrollable. when cells in any internal organ grow out of control it can lead to cancer.  To learn and know more about malignant mesothelioma please read on.

Understanding the meaning of mesothelium

The mesothelium is a  protective thin layer of cells that covers the lines found in the chest, abdomen and the surroundings of your heart. mesothelium also protects the surface of some of your internal organs. The lining created by these specialized cells is known as the mesothelium.  

Mesothelium plays a vital role that involves producing a fluid that helps your organs such as your [lungs] to move smoothly when you are breathing.  This special fluid help in protecting your lungs against complicated conditions like difficulty in breathing which is also called dyspnea. Note that mesothelium has a different name in any of the  internal organs

  • The pleura is a thin layer that houses the lungs and the space inside the chest known as the thoracic cavity.
  • The peritoneum is a membrane that covers the inside of the abdomen and other vital organs surrounding the abdomen. 
  • The pericardium protects the heart and the gap between the heart that contains the chest
  • The tunica vaginalis covers the testes. 

Malignant mesothelioma cell types

Malignant mesothelioma cancer cell type was divided into three categories in 2015 by the world health organization  [WHO].  This classification is based on the part of the body where cancer forms or develops. the three types of malignant mesothelioma cancer cell types are Epithelioid, Sarcomatoid, and Biphasic.

Epithelioid Cell: Research suggests that this type of cell do to have a more favorable prognosis than the Sarcomatoid cell type. Out of 100 % of malignant mesothelioma cases in our society, Epithelioid accounts for sixty to eighty. Patients with this type of cell type are likely to have a better treatment option.

Sarcomatoid Cell:  This type of cell was reported to be the most common type with aggressive fast growing cancerous cells and very difficult to treat. Sarcomatoid cell accounts for 10%of all mesothelioma cases.

Biphasic Cell: This is a common type of mesothelioma cell type that contains both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. malignant mesothelioma patients with this type of cell account for between 10%  to 15% of all mesothelioma cases.  

What are the four types of malignant mesothelioma?

 Malignant mesothelioma is known as a cancerous tumor of the mesothelium.  Malignant mesothelioma in short form is known as mesothelioma. The four types of mesothelioma are:

  • Pleural mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Pericardial mesothelioma
  • Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis

Pleural mesothelioma:  Pleural mesothelioma which is also known as malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common mesothelioma cancer which forms in the pleura the lining between the lungs and chest wall. 

 About 3,300 people were diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer yearly in the U.S. and malignant pleural mesothelioma accounts for 80% of mesothelioma cases. 

Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of mesothelioma cancer that has a TNM staging system, the stage ranges from 1 to 4.

In the first stage of pleural mesothelioma, cancer only settles in the pleura which means that it has not yet spread to other vital organs. a mesothelioma patient with this stage may be eligible to undergo surgical treatment to remove cancerous cells.

In the second pleural mesothelioma cancer may spread a little bit far from the pleura but still co-exist in the original site.

In the third stage  of pleural mesothelioma cancer has spread near the vital organs  and lumpy nodes

At the 4th stage of pleural mesothelioma which is also called the stage, cancer has reached vital organs such as the heart, liver, bone, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms take time to be visible or noticeable. symptoms can take up to five decades after asbestos exposure to develop. pleural mesothelioma’s early signs or symptoms may be overlooked or misdiagnosed as another disease that has the same symptoms. About 80% of people with mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed at the advanced stage.

pleural mesothelioma symptoms include;

  • Chest pain
  • Swollen face
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Lower back pains
  • Difficulties in swallowing food
  • Cough
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fever etc.

The majority of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients experience Pleural effusion, some may also experience other complications like pleural plaques and asbestosis.

If you have experienced or currently experiencing any of these pleural mesothelioma symptoms reach out to a mesothelioma doctor now.

Peritoneal  mesothelioma

Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is the second rare type of mesothelioma cancer that affect your abdomen and other internal organs in the abdominal cavity [ peritoneum ]. This type of cancer is very aggressive, it grows faster and spread to vital organs before diagnosis this means that peritoneal mesothelioma is mostly detected in the advanced stage and early detection for this type is very challenging. 

Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for between 10% to 20% of all mesothelioma cases. about 400 to 1,000 patients are diagnosed yearly in the U.S., peritoneal mesothelioma is staged using the P.C.I system.

Note that, peritoneal mesothelioma does not have a permanent cure yet, however treatment can impact a patient’s life.

Signs and symptoms of Peritoneal mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer may not show any sign or visible symptoms not until its spreads to the abdomen and other vital organs in the abdominal regions. one of the first symptoms of this type of mesothelioma is peritoneal effusion an extra fluid up in the abdomen which leads to swollen abdomen causing serious abdominal pain. 

Other peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ascites 
  • Fever
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Night sweats etc.


Pericardial mesothelioma 

Pericardial mesothelioma cancer is a common type of cancer. this type of cancer grows and develops in the pericardium which is often called the lining of the heart.  out of all mesothelioma cases pericardial accounts for only 1%.

Pericardial mesothelioma’s overall median survival rate after diagnosis is about 6 months and the prognosis level is very poor. Though, there is still ongoing research on treatment options that can be effective to treat pericardial mesothelioma [cancer affecting the lining of the heart].

Signs and symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma

pericardial mesothelioma symptoms may time to appear and sometimes it may come early because it is related to a heart condition.

pericardial mesothelioma symptoms are as follows:

  • Difficulties in breathing
  • chest pain
  • Heart murmur
  • improper heartbeat

Malignant mesothelioma general symptoms include Excessive sweating, weight loss, fever, poor appetite, weakness, pain, etc.

What Causes Malignant Mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure has been proven to be the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma. the majority of patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma were possibly exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral substance that contains tiny particles known as fiber. 

Asbestos is used in the production of building materials since the 80s  and is still used in some countries even to date. despite the benefit of asbestos, it has caused more harm than good which is why it has been banned in many countries.

 Asbestos fibers are invisible which means you can not see nor can you wash them off with water. When an individual inhales or swallows asbestos fibers, they will get stuck in the lining of the lung[ pleura] or the lining of the abdomen where they grow and spread and causes inflammation to other vital organs around the organs.

Asbestos exposure may lead to mesothelioma cancer or other asbestos-related diseases. mesothelioma takes many years to develop which is the main reason why most mesothelioma patients get diagnosed at the advanced stage. 

Occupations that have a higher risk of asbestos exposure include

  • Plumbers
  • Construction workers
  • miners
  • Factory workers
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Railway workers
  • Shipyard workers 

if you are living or staying close to the asbestos company you are also at a higher risk of being exposed to asbestos.

Malignant mesothelioma researchers have discovered factors that may contribute to your risk of contracting malignant mesothelioma. however, there is no strong proof that can convince on how those risk factors can affect humans.

Aside from asbestos, many risk factors can contribute to a person’s chance of getting malignant mesothelioma cancer  Such as

  • Patients Age
  • BAP1 [Gene changes
  • Gender
  • Zeolites 
  • simian virus 40 (SV40)


 Tests for malignant mesothelioma cancer

The presence of malignant mesothelioma cancer can be confirmed or detected once an individual visit a hospital and get tested. serial of tests will be carried out by the medical team based on the symptoms he or she may be experiencing. note the symptoms you are having will not confirm if you have mesothelioma but the series of tests indicated by a doctor will confirm if you have malignant mesothelioma or not.

Here is a list of tests that will help the doctors to know if you have mesothelioma cancer or not

  • Physical exam
  • imaging test
  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography scans [CTs]
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Echocardiogram[ultrasound of the heart]
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Blood test
  • Biopsy [Needle biopsies, Endoscopic biopsies, Open surgical biopsy,
  • Fluid build-up/sample test which involves procedures such as  [Thoracentesis, Paracentesis, and Pericardiocentesis 
  • ]Pulmonary function tests[PFTs]

Note that, some of these tests listed can indicate the signs of mesothelioma in the body but biopsy is the only test that can diagnose or confirm the presence of malignant mesothelioma in the body. 

How is malignant mesothelioma treated?

Malignant mesothelioma cancer is very difficult to treat and removing cancerous cells completely can be very challenging. However, treatment options are determined by a mesothelioma doctor based on the cancer location, stage of disease, patient’s overall health, the spread of the disease, etc.

Available treatment options for malignant mesothelioma cancer include:

Surgery: Helps in removing cancerous cells and also helps in reducing tumor pain and other uncomfortable mesothelioma symptoms in a patient with a  palliative option.

Surgeries for a patient diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma are [Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP] and Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D).

surgeries available for a patient diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma are [Debulking etc.

Other treatment options are:

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Targeted Therapy 
  • Palliative care



Malignant mesothelioma cancer is a real disease. Although there is no permanent cure for this type of cancer, there are numerous treatment options that can improve your quality of life. 

The best way to avoid mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases is to avoid asbestos or asbestos-containing products. 

If you have already been exposed to asbestos or have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma cancer, keep in mind that you are not alone in this fight. Like I always say your survival is possible and to make it possible ensure you go to a reputable hospital for your treatment to get the best treatment for your type and stage of mesothelioma.


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