Three Types of Mesothelioma: Causes and Symptoms


Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a microscopic and naturally-occurring fibrous mineral. In most cases, several years or even decades will pass before mesothelioma develops in those who have been exposed to asbestos. There are 3 major types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial.


pleural mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for about 75% of all diagnosed cases, and affects the pleura, the lung’s protective lining in the chest cavity. It often takes 10+ years for changes to appear that are indicative of pleural disease, and even longer for symptoms to show. These changes can include a thickening /calcification of the pleural lining, which often serves as precursors to mesothelioma.


Pleural mesothelioma is known only to be caused by exposure to asbestos, and asbestos fibers are extremely durable, but also extremely difficult to expel from the body once attached to the internal tissue. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they will lodge in the outer layers of the lung tissue and within the pleura, which can cause pleural plaques to form on its surface, developing into pleural mesothelioma tumor cells. Pleural mesothelioma, which is typically fatal within one year of diagnosis, originates in the pleura but can quickly spread to the outer chest wall, abdomen, and heart.


Initial symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, which include chest pain, chronic cough, effusions of the chest and abdomen, and the presence of blood in lung fluid, are often confused with pneumonia or other respiratory issues, and are often misdiagnosed because most medical professionals rarely see this disease. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people in the United States are diagnosed annually with this cancer.


asbestos - danger

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma making up about 20% of all mesothelioma cases, and affects the lining of the abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a higher survival rate than those diagnosed with either pleural or pericardial mesothelioma.


Peritoneal mesothelioma is known only to be caused by exposure to asbestos, and is said to reach the abdominal wall by one of two methods. The first is by ingesting asbestos fibers which are processed through digestion and become lodged in the peritoneum. The second way is through the lungs and lymph nodes by inhaling asbestos fibers.


Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are caused by the buildup of fluid or gas in the abdominal cavity and the thickening of the lining of the abdomen. Other common symptoms are weight loss, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.



Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of asbestos-related cancers. It develops in the thin membrane surrounding the heart, known as the pericardium. Because the heart lining, where tumors develop, is too close to the delicate organ, treatment options are limited.


Pericardial mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos exposure. While it is unknown exactly how the asbestos fibers reach the pericardial lining, mesothelioma doctors conclude that inhaled asbestos fibers are absorbed into the bloodstream and become trapped in the heart’s lining as the blood processes through the heart.


Most patients experience no symptoms when the cancer initially develops. The symptoms also resemble those of other heart conditions, making the cancer difficult to accurately diagnose. Most symptoms, such as chest pain, arrhythmia, cough, murmurs, fever, night sweats, fatigue and shortness of breath are caused by fluid buildup around the heart and thickening of the pericardial layers.

Like the other types of mesothelioma, this disease develops over a long period of time, typically 1-10 decades, and is typically discovered at a later stage.


If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at The Madeksho Law Firm PLLC have over 40 years experience litigating these types of cases.