What is Mesothelioma?

What is Mesothelioma?

People often ask us, what is Mesothelioma?  To summarise, Mesothelioma is a cancer of mesothelial tissue, associated especially with exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma most often starts in the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), but it can also start down in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial cells. These cells cover the entire outer surface of most of our internal organs in our bodies.  They form a lining that is known as the mesothelium.

what is mesothelioma - xray showing mesothelioma in lung

Mesothelioma of the chest

75% of all mesotheliomas occur in the chest.  They start in the tissue covering the lungs known as pleural membranes, or otherwise known as pleura. The pleural space is the gap that can be found inbetween the pleura.

These are fibrous sheets that are there to help protect our lungs. Pleura also produce a fluid that helps to lubricate the pleural membranes, so that they slide over each other easily as our lungs expand and deflate upon breathing.

Pleural mesothelioma is commonly known as Mesothelioma of the pleura.

The pericardium, which is the sheet of tissue that covers the heart, is infact very close to the pleura. Therefore, as a result of this, some people may find that the pleural mesothelioma could also spread into the pericardium.

Mesothelioma of the abdomen

The sheet of tissue which covers the organs within the abdomen is called the peritoneum.   The peritoneum helps protect the contents of the abdomen and also helps to keep everything in place.

And again, it also produces a fluid to aid lubrication. This fluid helps the organs within the abdomen to move smoothly against each other as our bodies move around.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma is the tissues lining the abdominal cavity that contain mesothelioma. Roughly 25% of mesotheliomas occur in the abdomen.

Therefore, it is much less common than the mesothelioma of the lungs known as pleural mesothelioma.  Also, Peritoneal mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the abdomen, does not usually spread to other parts of the body.

What is mesothelioma - peritoneal mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma benign tumour?

A benign Mesothelioma is a type of non cancerous mesothelioma that can develop in the lining of the lungs.  It can even develop in the lining of our reproductive organs.

Either men or women can develop these benign tumours.  These non cancerous tumours are very rare indeed.


So if someone asks you, “What is mesothelioma?, you’ll now be able to tell them and what the different types are.


Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/.  Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit http://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquiries or to book a training course.



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Published Jul 26, 2016
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