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Mesothelioma

Abstract

You are reading a NORD Rare Disease Report Abstract. NORD’s full collection of reports on over 1200 rare diseases is available to subscribers (click here for details). We are now also offering two full rare disease reports per day to visitors on our Web site.

NORD is very grateful to W. Roy Smythe, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery, Scott & White Hospital, Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center College of Medicine, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Mesothelioma

  • Malignant Mesothelioma

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the membrane that covers and protects various internal organs of the body (mesothelium). The mesothelium is composed of two layers of specialized cells known as mesothelial cells. One layer directly surrounds an organ; the other forms a protective sac around the organ. The most common form of mesothelioma affects the membrane or sac that lines the lungs (pleura). Other common sites include the membrane lining the stomach (peritoneum) and the membrane lining the heart (pericardium).

The term "cancer" refers to a group of diseases characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled cellular growth (e.g., mesothelial cells) that invades surrounding tissues and may spread (metastasize) to distant bodily tissues or organs via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, or other means. Different forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, may be classified based upon the cell type involved, the specific nature of the malignancy, the tissues or organs affected, and the disease's clinical course. Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending upon the location, type and stage of the cancer. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of cases of mesothelioma result from exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until up to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. However, after symptoms began apparent, mesothelioma may rapidly progress to cause life-threatening complications.

Organizations related to Mesothelioma

Please note that some of these organizations may provide information concerning certain conditions potentially associated with this disorder.

The information in NORD’s Rare Disease Database is for educational purposes only. It should never be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. NORD’s reports provide a brief overview of rare diseases. For more specific information, we encourage you to contact your personal physician or the agencies listed as “Resources” on this report.

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