Author Topic: What is mesothelioma?  (Read 2294 times)

Offline Tony

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What is mesothelioma?
« on: October 01, 2012, 06:40:33 AM »
What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma starts in the mesothelial cells, which form a membrane (lining) that covers and protects most internal organs in your body. This is called the mesothelium. It is made up of two layers. The inner (visceral) layer wraps around organs such as the lung, heart or stomach. The outer (parietal) layer forms a sac around the inner layer. The mesothelium makes fluid to fill the space between the two layers so that the organs can move easily. The mesothelium has different names, depending on where it is in the body.

The pleura is the mesothelial membrane that protects and cushions the lungs. The inner layer covers the lungs, and the outer layer lines the inside wall of the chest. The space between the two layers (called the pleural space) is filled with pleural fluid. The pleural fluid allows the layers to slide over each other as you breathe.

The peritoneum is the mesothelial membrane that protects and cushions the organs in the abdomen, such as the liver, stomach and intestines. The inner layer covers the abdominal organs and the outer layer lines the wall of the abdomen. The peritoneum fluid fills the space between the two layers and helps the organs move smoothly inside your abdomen.


Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma usually develops in the pleura or the peritoneum.

Pleural mesothelioma starts in the pleura. (It is sometimes mistakenly called a lung cancer.) As the cancer cells grow, the membranes thicken and press on the lung. Sometimes fluid collects between the two layers of the pleura. This is called a pleural effusion. Changes to the pleura or pleural fluid can make breathing difficult.

Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the peritoneum. It causes the membranes to thicken. Fluid may collect in the abdomen. This is called ascites and it causes the abdomen to swell.

For more information on mesothelioma, please contact The Cancer Society  or call the Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-888-939-3333.

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« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 09:41:25 AM by Tony »

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