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Where Does Mesothelioma Start?

Mesothelioma starts in the cells which cover the surface of most internal organs. Nearly 75% of cases arise in the chest cavity, as malignant cells start developing on the outer lining of the lungs.

answered by Gregory A. Cade

Mesothelioma Primarily Affects the Lungs

Originating in the two layers of tissue surrounding the lungs, pleural mesothelioma accounts for the majority of mesothelioma cases. These lawyers of tissue which cover the lungs - medically known as pleura - have a protective role. They secret a fluid which makes them slide over each other when the lungs expand during the breathing process.

Pleural mesothelioma is usually unilateral and mostly occurs in men between the ages of 60 and 80 with a history of occupational asbestos exposure. Shortly after onset, it appears as a series of small, white, diffuse nodules. Over time, these nodules begin growing and thickening, eventually forming a layer which covers the lung. They also infiltrate the fissures of the pleura. The tumor develops by directly invading the surrounding tissue, compressing the lung, and spreading through the chest cavity.

Although they have a significantly lower incidence among victims of asbestos exposure, peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are the other types of this cancer. The former occurs in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), whereas the latter develops on the lining of the heart (pericardium).

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