What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma, a malignancy, manifests as an aggressive cancer affecting the thin protective lining (mesothelium) encasing the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testes. With progression, these tumors may spread or metastasize to adjacent organ linings and lymph nodes. Classification of mesothelioma is contingent upon its location within the mesothelium, thereby dictating symptoms, treatment options, and prognosis.

What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

The symptoms of mesothelioma typically vary depending on the location of the cancer. For pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, common symptoms include a dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and unexplained weight loss. On the other hand, peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, may present symptoms such as abdominal pain, swelling, nausea, and distension. Respiratory issues like wheezing and chest pain are also common with pleural mesothelioma.

The four types of mesothelioma are determined by the location of the tumor:

1. Pleural Mesothelioma:

   This is the most prevalent type, originating in the pleura, the protective lining surrounding the lungs.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma:

   The second-most common type arises in the abdominal lining. It boasts a higher survival rate, with surgical interventions often yielding more favorable outcomes compared to pleural mesothelioma.

3. Pericardial Mesothelioma:

   Affecting approximately 1% of patients, this type targets the pericardium. Treatment options are considerably limited, with a median survival ranging from 2 to 6 months.

4. Testicular Mesothelioma:

   The rarest form occurs in the testicular lining. Although treatment options are limited, around one-third of patients survive for at least a decade.

Mesothelioma primarily stems from asbestos exposure, commonly found in workplaces like factories and construction sites. Historically, asbestos was favored for its affordability, durability, and resistance to heat and electricity. Despite its ban in many applications, asbestos persists in older building materials and consumer goods.

Military personnel are also vulnerable to mesothelioma due to extensive asbestos usage in Navy ships, military bases, barracks, and machinery.

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