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Types of Mesothelioma

There are four types of mesothelioma. Each type of mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. The types develop in the lining of the the lungs, abdomen, heart or testes.

Key Facts

What Are the 4 Types of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can start in the lining around the lungs, abdomen, heart or testes. The four mesothelioma types are:

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common. Peritoneal mesothelioma usually has a better prognosis than the other types. Both pericardial and testicular are very rare. Your doctor will explain what to expect for each type and stage.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 80–90% of cases. It starts when asbestos fibers embed in the thin lining around the lungs. This lining is called the pleura. With treatment, the median survival for pleural mesothelioma patients is about 18 months. Doctors often use chemo, surgery or immunotherapy to treat it. Doctors may sometimes use a combination of these therapies to treat the cancer.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in a thin lining called the peritoneum. This lining covers organs in the belly. Only 10–15% of mesothelioma cases start in the abdomen, but it often has the best median survival. People who receive treatment typically have a median survival of 2.5 years. One treatment that has helped eligible patients extend survival is a combination of surgery with a heated chemotherapy wash called HIPEC.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma affecting the pericardium, the thin lining around the heart, is rare. In fact, pericardial mesothelioma only makes up about 1% of mesothelioma cases. Unfortunately, the median survival is about six months. Doctors may treat pericardial mesothelioma with chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.Β 

Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Less than 1% of reported mesothelioma cases are testicular. It forms in the thin lining around the testes. With treatment, the median life expectancy is about six years.Β 

Mesothelioma Cell Types

When diagnosing mesothelioma, doctors also pay attention to the type of cancer cells they find. There are three distinct mesothelioma tumors based on cell types:

The cell type can affect the treatments your doctor recommends. For example, epithelioid mesothelioma may respond well to surgery and chemotherapy, and sarcomatoid may respond well to immunotherapy.