Mesothelioma is a rare but highly aggressive form of cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos. Doctors classify its different types depending on where the cancer develops. There are four main varieties of mesothelioma:
Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleural lining of the lungs and accounts for approximately 3 in 4 of all new cases.
- Symptoms: Most patients experience shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and fatigue.
- Prognosis: About 2 in 5 patients survive one year following diagnosis.
- Treatment: Many patients undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy — all of which can add weeks, months, or even years to a patient’s life expectancy.
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. It’s the second-most-common type of mesothelioma.
- Symptoms: Generally, patients experience pain in the abdomen, bloating, and changes in bowel movements.
- Prognosis: A prognosis is generally more favorable than with pleural mesothelioma, as approximately 25% of patients survive three years.
- Treatment: Surgery with heated chemotherapy has shown to be the most effective treatment option.
Pericardial mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the heart and is very rare.
- Symptoms: Patients often experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and a persistent cough.
- Prognosis: Pericardial mesothelioma has the worst prognosis of any type of mesothelioma, as only about half of patients survive six months.
- Treatment: Surgery may help some patients live beyond the average six-month survival rate.
Testicular mesothelioma affects the lining of the testes and is the least common form of mesothelioma cancer.
- Symptoms: Symptoms typically include scrotal swelling and the formation of testicular lumps.
- Prognosis: Testicular mesothelioma generally has the most favorable prognosis, with the average patient surviving two years.
- Treatment: Surgery and chemotherapy can help patients live beyond the average two-year prognosis.