Mesothelioma is a type of asbestos-related cancer that affects the thin membranes around the body’s internal organ. Mesothelioma is caused when the tiny, sharp fibers in asbestos enter and begin shredding the protective membranes around the organs. This causes inflammation that can leads to cancerous tumors.
There are three main types of mesothelioma, classified by the organs affected by the asbestos fibers—pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma. If affects the protective membrane around your lungs and is often confused with lung cancer. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can take several decades to appear. Doctors often misdiagnose pleural mesothelioma as a cold, flu, whooping cough, pneumonia, and laryngitis.
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops after ingesting asbestos fibers. It affects the protective membrane of the abdominal cavity. Fluid accumulates quickly in the abdomen causing abdominal pain and swelling.
Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common type of mesothelioma. It affects the protective membrane around the heart. Symptoms do not surface immediately and usually take several decades to appear. The damage caused by pericardial mesothelioma is irreparable by the time symptoms are noticed.
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