Mesothelioma: definition, types, symptoms and causes

Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a very rare type of cancer that occurs from transformed cells of the mesothelium., a membrane that lines the internal organs of the body. Although we are talking about an oncological variety, Education point out that there are also non-cancerous benign fibrous mesotheliomas (MFBs).

The cancerous form of this pathology is an aggressive neoplasm with a poor prognosis and, according to scientific sources, the latency time can be extended up to 32 years. For all of these reasons, recognizing the symptoms is crucial, especially in people who have been in contact with asbestos (an unclean variety of asbestos).

Information on the distribution of mesothelioma

To understand who should be concerned about a potential mesothelioma, it is necessary to describe the risk groups and the prevalence of the disease. THE epidemiological models The most important of this type of cancer are the following:

  • Over 70% of mesothelioma cases have been related to direct exposure to asbestosa building material totally prohibited by the European Union from the year 2005.
  • The likelihood of developing secondary pleural disease associated with this type of asbestos is estimated to be between 8% and 13%.
  • In the UK, this malignancy is responsible for up to 3,000 deaths a year. Its incidence is 31 deaths per million inhabitants per year.
  • The main risk group is men under 50 years of age, because for every two women who have this type of cancer, five men suffer from it.

Of course, as we can see, we are dealing with a disease linked to the construction sector. Therefore, the typical profile of the person with this pathology is a relatively young man of working age, dedicated to construction in a place without strict legislation.

Builder with mesothelioma.
Construction workers are a risk group, as asbestos was a material used in buildings.

What is Mesothelioma?

As we have already said, mesothelioma is a tumor process that can be malignant (MM) or benign (MFB) in the patient’s pleural or peritoneal cavity. Since the malignant form is a type of cancer, the effects are produced by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the form of tumors in the chest and abdominal cavities; in turn, they can spread through metastases.


In his opinion National Cancer Institute (NIH) There are different types of mesothelioma, depending on its location. These are the following:

  • Pleural: it originates from the pleura, a thin sheet of tissue that forms the outer lining of the lungs. Second Educationit is the most common type.
  • peritoneal: It forms in the peritoneum, a membrane that surrounds various organs located in the abdomen.
  • pericardium: a very rare malignant tumor affecting the pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart. This type is not associated with asbestos inhalation.
  • From the vaginal tunic: i.e. the serous covering of the testicle.

As we can see, the most common types of mesothelioma are those related to the respiratory system. This is no coincidence, as exposure to asbestos favors the appearance of these malignant tumors when its microparticles are inhaled.

Second American Cancer Society, Malignant mesothelioma can also be subdivided based on the cell types of the tumor. These can be epithelioid, sarcomatoid or biphasic, the first variant being the least aggressive of all.

Symptoms of mesothelioma

As expected, a tumor process in the lining of the heart and one in the lung area will manifest in completely different ways. The most common symptoms are those associated with pleural mesothelioma. Second United States National Library of Medicinethese are as follows:

  • Respiratory problem.
  • Cough.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Feeling of extreme tiredness.

This clinical picture is associated with the appearance of a tumor mass near the lungs. Even so, the peritoneal variant presents with other symptoms, such as pain in the ribs, lumps in the abdomen, or continuous constipation.

Thus, the symptomatology of the disease will depend on the place of growth of the primary tumor. Scientific studies gather that, for example, the pericardial variant may be associated with pain in the sternum, tachycardia, and a feeling of shortness of breath. Due to the low prevalence of cardiac mesotheliomas, they are rarely initially suspected when a patient enters the hospital.

Asbestos on the roof.
Several countries have legislated the use of asbestos to prevent diseases associated with its inhalation.

When to see the doctor?

As we have seen, mesothelioma, both in its benign and malignant variants, It is an uncommon disease in the general population. In any case, if you are someone who has been exposed to asbestos materials for a long time, it never hurts to have a general medical checkup.

This compound not only causes the aforementioned cancer but also causes lung lesions known as asbestosis. Although its use has been banned in several countries, there are still areas with remnants of the material and geographical regions where there was no legislation regarding it. From there comes the concern still present in the world.

The post Mesothelioma: definition, types, symptoms and causes appeared first in research-school.



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