What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancerous or malignant tumour which originates in the cells of the mesothelium. The word "malignant" means that the tumor can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of your internal organs. It is composed of 2 layers. The inner layer wraps the various organs, including the lungs, heart and stomach. The outer layer forms a kind of bag that surrounds the inner layer. There is a small amount of fluid between the 2 layers, which facilitates the movement of bodies.
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The mesothelium has different names depending on the location of the body where it is located. The mesothelium which forms a protective cushion around the lungs is called the pleura. The inner layer that covers the lungs is called visceral pleura. The outer layer, lining the inner wall of the thorax is called parietal pleura.
The mesothelium that covers the abdominal organs and lining the walls of the abdomen and pelvis is called the peritoneum. The inner layer that wraps and supports most of the internal abdominal organs, bears the name of visceral peritoneum. The outer layer, which runs along the wall of the abdomen and pelvis, bears the name of parietal peritoneum.
The mesothelium is composed of Mesothelial cells. Sometimes, these cells undergo changes that make their abnormal behavior or their mode of growth. These changes may result in the formation of non-cancerous or benign tumors, such as fibrous tumor of the pleura and multicystic mesothelioma. But in some cases, changes in Mesothelial cells may result in malignant mesothelioma.
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Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer. It develops most often in the pleura and is the name of mesothelioma pleural. This type of cancer is 70-80% of all mesothelioma. Cancer can also occur in the peritoneum; then, it is called peritoneal mesothelioma. This form of cancer represents approximately 25% of all mesothelioma.
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Rare types of mesothelioma can also occur. They include among others the mesothelioma of the pericardium, which originates in the membrane surrounding the heart. Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis, which develops in the outer coating of the testicle, is another example.
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