Mesothelioma is a fairly rare cancer that can lead to a malignant tumor and is associated with prior exposure to asbestos. The exposure could have been 20 to even 50 years ago and only now will symptoms start to appear. Mesothelioma can develop in mesothelial cells in the pleura, pericardium, and peritoneum.
The pleura is the outer lining that surrounds your lungs. This lining lets your lungs have flexibility when you breathe in or out. After exposure to asbestos, a tumor may eventually develop in this area creating what is known as pleural mesothelioma. This is common if asbestos material has been inhaled either by mining it or working in a factory that uses it in a product.
The pericardium contains all of the hearts blood vessels and arteries. This membrane separates the heart from the rest of the chest cavity and ensures it has greater protection. Occasionally, asbestos can go from the lungs to the heart through the bloodstream and tumors can develop. This is a very dangerous place for a tumor to develop and is known as pericardial mesothelioma.
The peritoneum is the large outer lining that protects all of the organs in your abdominal cavity. This is the least likely place for a tumor to develop from asbestos but is very dangerous if it does occur. This is known as peritoneal mesothelioma.
If you or someone you know have ever been around anyone who worked with asbestos, it couldn’t hurt to tell your doctor and have some tests run. Mesothelioma is treatable like most cancer and surgery and chemotherapy are just a couple of the available options.