The lining or membranes of certain large cavities of our body is affected by a serious form of cancer known as mesothelioma cancer. These cavities are also known as the serous cavities and the vital organs like abdomen, heart, lungs etc are contained in them. The membranes which surround these cavities are called serous membranes. The main function of the serous membranes is to protect the vital organs from damages caused by abrasion and friction, while they move against each other during routine functioning. Mesothelial cells are the special cells which create the mesothelium, the major tissue layer of the serous membranes. The mesothelium tissue gets affected by mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma takes on three forms, the first being peritoneal mesothelioma. This form of cancer attacks the peritoneum or membrane surrounding the abdomen. It can also affect male testicles rarely, since the lining around the scrotum is an extension of peritoneum. The pericardium or lining surrounding the heart is affected by the second form, called pericardial mesothelioma. The third form is the most malignant form and affects the lining of the lung cavity. This is known as the pleural mesothelioma.
Starting as a localized tumor, mesothelioma cancer spreads very rapidly to the nearby organs and tissues. The non-cancerous growths and the fibrous cysts that appear in the serous membranes were initially considered to be fibrous mesothelioma which is not malignant. These conditions actually do not get initiated in mesothelial cells, but other cells within the serous membranes and they do not spread fast as they are localized.
Enough evidence is there to prove that mesothelioma is caused by over-exposure to asbestos. The cancer is rare and deadly, and very difficult to identify in the initial stages. There is no hope for a complete cure and the patient survives for maximum two years after the diagnosis. The survival time depends on the type of mesothelioma also.
Traditional as well as modern treatment procedures are there for treating mesothelioma cancer. The main traditional procedures include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. According to the requirement of the situation, doctors sometimes adopt a combination of these methods. But once the cancer spreads beyond control, palliative treatment, that is, treating the symptoms is the only treatment option left.