Mesothelioma Guide Part I: Mesothelioma — What is That?
Mesothelioma. Most people can’t spell it, they can’t pronounce it and they have no idea what it is. Most people, that is, unless they’ve been met with mesothelioma head-on, either as a mesothelioma patient, friend or family member of someone with the cancer. Because once you’ve seen what mesothelioma is, you can’t forget.
You may not be able to spell it or pronounce it or even explain its devastation to your next-door neighbor the same way that you’ve known it — but the facts are real, and we think they stand for themselves.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer with no cure that is caused by (the unnecessary) exposure to asbestos or materials containing asbestos.
Asbestos has been the known cause of mesothelioma since as early as 1964. (And that is conservative; many studies show links as early as the late 1800’s.)
There is a “latency period” that comes with mesothelioma; meaning, it can take several decades for an initial exposure to asbestos to result in symptoms of mesothelioma.
Because asbestos has not been banned in the United States, and because asbestos exists in so many older commercial and residential buildings, more people may be exposed to the asbestos that will eventually cause them to develop mesothelioma. (That’s because we have yet as a country to learn from our lesson, AKA Fact #2.)
For patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are three main types of the cancer: pleural, peritoneal and pericardial. Each one of these types of mesothelioma has to do with the “mesothelium,” a thin layer of cells that line up the body’s internal organs. Thus, the name “mesothelioma” that is so hard to pronounce.
Pleural mesothelioma: This is a type of mesothelioma that develops in the “pleura,” which is an area of protective lining that surrounds the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma, with upwards of 70 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Peritoneal mesothelioma: That would be a type of mesothelioma that originates in the “peritoneum,” a lining of the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for between 10 and 30 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Pericardial mesothelioma: That is a type of mesothelioma that begins in the “pericardium,” the lining of the heart. Pericardial mesothelioma only makes up around one percent of mesothelioma diagnoses.