Malignant mesothelioma – The cancer of the mesothelial cells
Malignant Mesothelioma can be defined as the cancer of the mesothelial cells
which become abnormal and start dividing without any order.
Mesothelium is the protective tissue that covers the chest cavity, abdominal
cavity and the cavity around the heart and also produces a special lubricating
fluid that allows the internal organs of the body to move around. Malignant
Mesothelioma can be defined as the cancer of the mesothelial cells which become
abnormal and start dividing without any order. Majority of the mesothelioma
patients have a prior history of exposure to asbestos.
Types of malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant Mesothelioma or simply Mesothelioma can be divided into 3 main types
Of these, Epithelioid is the most common (50% to 70% cases) and stands the best
chance of recovery. Sarcomatoid type is seen in 7% to 20% cases whereas
mixed/biphasic type is seen in 20% to 35% cases.
Approximately, ¾ of the total cases of Mesothelioma originates in the chest
cavity (pleura) and is known as pleural mesothelioma. The cancer affecting the
lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is called the peritoneal mesothelioma and
that affecting the “sac like” space around the heart (pericardial cavity) is
called the pericardial mesothelioma. Mesothelioma at times also affects the
covering layer of the testicles. However, the last two types of cases are quite
Diagnosis of malignant Mesothelioma
The tumors of the mesothelium can either be benign (non cancerous) or malignant
(cancerous). So whenever there are symptoms like shortness of breath, pain in
chest/abdomen or swelling in the abdomen, you should consult your doctor
After the initial X-rays and scans, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity
(in case of pleural tumor) with an instrument called thoracoscope and the test
is called thoracoscopy. In case of tumor in peritoneum the doctor may go for
peritoneoscopy with the help of a tool called peritoneoscope. Finally, if the
abnormal tissue is found then a biopsy is done, whereby a piece of the unnatural
tissue is cut out and placed under microscope for examination.
After the confirmed diagnosis of Mesothelioma it is also essential to ascertain
its stages i.e. whether it is in localized stage or in advanced stage. In the
localized stage, the cancer is found in the lining of the chest cavity or in the
diaphragm or the lung. Advanced malignant Mesothelioma can again be divided into
3 stages namely stage II, III and IV. In stage II, the cancer spreads beyond the
chest lining to lymph nodes and in stage III it spreads into chest wall, center
of the chest, heart, through the diaphragm or abdominal lining, etc. The final
or the fourth stage is the one in which the cancer has already spread to distant
Depending on the stage of the cancer, its location and the health, age and
medical history of the patient, 3 types of treatments are mated out to malignant
Mesothelioma patients – surgery (to remove the tumor), radiation therapy
(application of high energy rays) and chemotherapy (usage of combination of
drugs). This apart, if there is any accumulation of fluid in the chest or
abdomen, then the doctor needs to drain it out and the process is regarded as
thoracentesis and paracentesis respectively.
So be aware of the disease, such that you can prevent it at the very onset.