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What Type of Mesothelioma Is the Most Common?

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Advocate for Clients Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that is often caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. There are four primary types of mesothelioma, including pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular. Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common form of the disease and accounts for over 80 percent of all cases. While there are treatment options that can manage symptoms and prolong a patient’s life expectancy, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer at your earliest convenience.

What Are the Different Types of Mesothelioma?

The type of mesothelioma that a patient is diagnosed with will depend on where the tumor has developed in the body. It can be further classified based on the cell type. The following are the four types of mesothelioma:


  • Pleural mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma affects the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pleural mesothelioma represents approximately 82 percent of all cases. The main risk factor of pleural mesothelioma is prior exposure to asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. While each patient’s circumstances are unique, the American Cancer Society reports that pleural mesothelioma has a five-year survival rate of 20 percent if the cancer is localized and 12 percent for all stages combined.

    Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include the following:
    – Chest pain
    – Coughing
    – Difficulty swallowing
    – Pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the pleura)
    – Pleural plaques
    – Fatigue
    – Breathlessness
    – Lumps under the skin
    – Weight loss

    Treatment options for pleural mesothelioma include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Ultimately, these treatments are meant to manage the disease and the symptoms and help the patient live as long as possible. Surgery offers the best outcome for early-stage pleural mesothelioma. Combined therapies can add months or years to a patient’s life. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms appear, the disease has often progressed to a later stage, making it more difficult to treat.

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: While this is the second most common form of mesothelioma, it only accounts for roughly 10 percent of all cases. The most common risk factor for this type of mesothelioma is also asbestos exposure. It can also be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are not always obvious. When patients do experience symptoms, they include the following:
    – Swollen abdomen
    – Stomach pain
    – Peritoneal effusion (fluid buildup in the peritoneum)
    – Blood clots
    – Intestinal obstruction
    – Fever
    – Nausea
    – Fatigue
    – Weight loss

    Treatment options include surgery and chemotherapy. Doctors often recommend combined therapies, including cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), for patients who qualify. Since the disease is so rare, there are limited studies about the effectiveness of the treatment options that are currently available. Survival rates depend on a range of factors, including the patient’s age and the types of cells found in the cancer. Patients who receive CRS and HIPEC generally have a survival rate of 2.5 to 7.5 years.

  • Pericardial mesothelioma: This is an extremely rare form of mesothelioma that accounts for less than 1 percent of all cases. Pericardial mesothelioma forms in the lining of the heart or the pericardium. Due to its rarity, there is limited information about the exact cause, but it has also been linked to asbestos exposure. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include the following:
    – Cardiac tamponade (fluid or blood buildup between the heart and pericardium)
    – Chest pain
    – Pericardial effusion (fluid buildup in the pericardium)
    – Dry cough
    – Difficulty swallowing
    – Swelling of the legs or lower extremities
    – Shoulder pain

    Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma include chemotherapy, radiation, and pericardiectomy surgery. The mean survival rate for patients with pericardial mesothelioma is six months, although patients who received multimodal therapies have lived longer than six months. Patients who qualify may be eligible for new treatment options through clinical trials.

  • Testicular mesothelioma: This is the most rare form of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1 percent of all cases. It forms in the lining of the testicle, which is called the tunica vaginalis. While its exact cause is unclear due to how few cases there are, it has been linked to asbestos exposure. Common symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include:
    – Scrotal swelling
    – Hydrocele (fluid buildup in the scrotum)
    – Inguinal mass (a mass that may look like a hernia in the groin)
    – Solid scrotal mass
    – Spermatocele (a cyst near the top or behind the testicle)

    The most common form of treatment involves removing the testicle and its spermatic cord, although patients may also undergo chemotherapy and radiation as well. The median survival rate for testicular mesothelioma is six years.

What Are the Different Mesothelioma Cell Types?

In addition to the location of the tumor, mesothelioma is defined by the cell type. There are three types of mesothelioma cells:


  • Epithelioid: This is the most common cell subtype, accounting for roughly 70 percent of all cases. It tends to be less aggressive and does not spread as quickly as other cell types. As a result, patients with epithelioid cell tumors generally have the best prognosis, particularly when they receive surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Sarcomatoid: These account for approximately 10 percent of cases. The prognosis is not as good as other cell types, but treatment advances continue to improve. For example, doctors have been seeing promising results using immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), which are immunotherapy drugs that help the body’s immune system fight cancer. One study found that the survival rate almost doubled in pleural sarcomatoid patients who were treated with ICIs.
  • Biphasic: Also referred to as mixed mesothelioma, biphasic tumors contain epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. They account for about 12 percent of all cases, according to a study in the Journal of Surgical Research. The life expectancy depends on whether there are more epithelioid cells or more sarcomatoid cells. Patients who have more epithelioid cells generally have a better prognosis.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Advocate for Clients Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, it is highly recommended that you contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler as soon as possible. We will determine who is responsible for the asbestos exposure and recommend the legal course of action that will help you recover the maximum damages that you are entitled to receive. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 215-569-4000 or contact us online. Our office is located in Philadelphia, where we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.