There are different types of Mesothelioma.

If you don’t know already, Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused exclusively by asbestos exposure. The most common form of the disease attacks the lining of the lungs. Rarer forms of mesothelioma attack the lining of other organs. There is no known cure and no screening method that effectively isolates and identifies the disease. Symptoms manifest only in the late stages of the disease, making the life expectancy for most diagnosed patients very short. Mesothelioma is a comparatively rare cancer, with an average of 43,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide each year, and 2,500 diagnosed in the U.S.

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Pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lungs, is the most commonly diagnosed type of mesothelioma, accounting for approximately 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It is caused when people breathe in tiny asbestos fibers. The fibers, which are made of the most indestructible material known to man, stick in the lining of the lungs, which is called the mesothelium. Over a very long period of time, tumors grow around the fibers. These tumors start out tiny and often take several decades to develop into a discernible problem. Most of today’s mesothelioma patients were exposed more than 40 years ago. As the tumors grow and spread, they cover the lungs and secrete fluid. Eventually, they exert so much pressure on the lungs that patients have difficulty breathing. Draining the fluid helps, but at the advanced stage of the disease, treatment options are limited. If the doctor happens to catch the disease in its early stages, there are several aggressive surgical options combined with chemotherapy that have proven successful.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the next most common form of the disease, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the peritoneal mesothelium, or the lining of the abdomen. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include swelling of the abdomen caused by collection of liquid in the abdominal cavity. This can lead to pain and breathing difficulties as the liquid compresses the organs and the lungs. The most common theory of how this disease is contracted is ingestion. In areas where asbestos fibers are in the air, the fibers are unknowingly ingested with food or drink.

Pericardial mesothelioma is extremely rare. It attacks the pericardium, which is the lining surrounding the heart. Only 5 percent of all mesothelioma patients have pericardial mesothelioma. The tumors grow around the heart, pressing in on the organ and causing pain and symptoms commonly associated with heart problems.

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