The 4 Types of Mesothelioma

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Unveiling the Diverse Landscape: Understanding the 4 Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that develops in the lining tissues of major organs. There are 4 types of mesothelioma: pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular. Each of these types is determined by where in the body the cancer first develops.

While mesothelioma may be classified by where it occurs, all its types share the same root cause. Asbestos exposure is the main cause of all types of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a small, flame-resistant mineral fiber that used to be commonly implemented in building materials and other products. These fibers can become lodged into the lung tissue when inhaled, causing scars and inflammation, and over time, the development of cancer. Your hereditary health and lifestyle factors can also contribute to the likelihood of developing mesothelioma after asbestos exposure.

There are also two different categories of mesothelioma tumors: malignant and benign. Malignant mesothelioma consists of highly cancerous tumors and is the most common diagnosis. Malignant mesothelioma spreads rapidly and often comes with limited treatment options and a shortened lifespan. Benign mesothelioma tumors are non-cancerous and usually slow-growing and non-invasive. Benign tumors should still be treated seriously and removed via surgery, however, as they can sometimes become malignant over time.

While there is no cure for any type of mesothelioma, the disease may be managed and lifespan extended if the case is detected early and properly treated. The prognosis ultimately depends upon the individual case. Staying fully informed is one measure you can take to help improve your outlook. If you suspect a possible asbestos exposure, take the initiative and discuss it with your medical provider.

Pleural Mesothelioma

One of the 4 types of mesothelioma is Pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lungs, specifically the pleura, or the lining of the chest cavity and lungs. This cancer is particularly aggressive and accounts for the majority of all mesothelioma cases diagnosed. The prolonged inhalation of asbestos contributes to the vast majority of these cases developing. With 2,500 to 3,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year, pleural mesothelioma makes up approximately 75-80% of all diagnosed cases.

When the pleura is affected by this cancer, it becomes thickened, which results in the chest cavity and lungs being unable to fully expand and contract. This creates a buildup of fluids in the chest over time. When pleural mesothelioma is detected, it usually occurs during a chest x-ray, which shows the fluid buildup in the chest cavity. A patient may present with chest pain, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. Since these symptoms are also shared by many other conditions, it’s imperative to communicate about any asbestos exposure and discuss receiving a thorough examination with your physician.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the pericardium, or the tissues that line the heart. This type of mesothelioma is exceedingly rare, representing only 1% of all mesothelioma cases.

Since this type of cancer is so rare, doctors are still researching it to determine the cause. It may or may not be related to asbestos exposure, but the symptoms can be similar to those of pleural mesothelioma. In addition, due to its rarity, pericardial mesothelioma has a poor prognosis. Patients survive an average of 6-12 months, and care is primarily aimed at reducing discomfort and symptoms.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the peritoneum, or the thin lining of the abdominal cavity and its internal organs. This type of mesothelioma is the second-most common occurrence, at 15-20% of all mesothelioma cases. This type of cancer can occur when asbestos that is inhaled makes its way down to the abdominal area overtime via the lymphatic system. It may also occur when asbestos is ingested; as the fibers are so tiny it may be possible to ingest them without knowing it. Early on, a patient may experience unexplained weight loss, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, high fevers, or seizures.

This type of mesothelioma has a more positive prognosis than the other types, with a longer life expectancy possible when detected early on and treated with surgery in conjunction with other, complementary treatments.

Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining surrounding the testicles, occurring in men between the ages of 55-75. By far, this is the rarest of all 4 types of mesothelioma. Accounting for less than 1% of all cases, testicular mesothelioma has only been reported in about one hundred cases. Due to its extreme rarity, it is difficult to determine a full range of symptoms for this type of mesothelioma. According to the limited medical literature available, a patient may present with a painless mass on the scrotum or possible swelling or pain of the testicles caused by fluid buildup. Typically, it will develop in one testicle before spreading to another.

If caught early on and removed, the prognosis for this type of mesothelioma is more favorable than other types, despite the relative lack of a standard treatment. However, testicular mesothelioma also comes with a high recurrence rate; around 93% of patients experienced a recurrence of the cancer five years after their first diagnosis.


The 4 types of mesothelioma are classified by where in the body they first occur. While pleural and peritoneal are the most common types, testicular and pericardial are both extremely rare types of cancer.

Mesothelioma is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Keep in mind that this exposure takes some time to fully develop into a cancer. It may be a range of anywhere from 10-50 years before asbestos exposure results in the growth of mutated, cancerous cells. Once these cancerous cells take over, they spread to create a thin layer around the tissues of bodily organs including the lungs, heart, abdomen, and testicles. This layer, called mesothelium, determines the type of mesothelioma depending on where it first develops. If left undetected and untreated, the tumors may grow and spread their cancerous cells to other parts of the body.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing any troubling symptoms, seek out the prompt attention of a medical professional. After obtaining a diagnosis and embarking on a treatment plan, you may then decide to pursue filing a legal claim.

You deserve monetary compensation and caring, experienced legal counsel. If you are facing a diagnosis and in need of legal aid, obtain your free case evaluation with us today—simply fill out the form below to get started.