What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer — only around 3,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Cancer Society. It is a disease that affects the cells that line certain organs, called mesothelial cells. Mesothelioma affects four regions of the body:
- Pleural mesothelioma affects the cells that line the lungs.
- Peritoneal mesotheliomas affect the cells lining organs in the abdominal region.
- Pericardial mesotheliomas are rare and found in mesothelial cells around the heart.
- Mesotheliomas of the tunica vaginalis are extremely rare and affect cells lining the testicles.
Mesotheliomas are grouped according to the way the cells look under a microscope. Most mesotheliomas are epitheliod — the rest are either sarcomatoid or a combination of the two (mixed or biphasic type). Mesothelial tumors most often affect the chest and abdominal regions.