Types of Mesothelioma

There are two primary types of mesothelioma – pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Two additional types, pericardial mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma, may also occur, but these are far less common.

  • Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs (the pleura) and is the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for more than 75 percent of all diagnoses.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) and accounts for 15 to 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart (the pericardium) and accounts for just 1 to 2 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses.
  • Testicular mesothelioma develops in the membrane that lines the testes (the tunica vaginalis) and is the rarest type of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Approximately 250 total cases have ever been recorded.

Once the primary type of mesothelioma has been established, physicians will look at a tissue sample under a microscope to determine its histological (cell) type. Because cell types can influence the way a tumor behaves and responds to treatment, it is important to consider this information when creating a treatment plan.

The main histological types of mesothelioma include:

  • Epithelial mesothelioma – The most common mesothelioma cell type, which is most receptive to treatment.
  • Papillary mesothelioma – A rare epithelial cell subtype that is most frequently seen in peritoneal mesotheliomas, and has a better prognosis than other subtypes.
  • Sarcomatoid mesothelioma – A rapidly-dividing cell type that can be challenging to treat.
  • Biphasic (mixed) mesothelioma – A type that involves both epithelial and sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team of lung cancer specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating all types of mesothelioma – no matter how rare. To make an appointment at our Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center, call 1-888-MOFFITT today or request an appointment online.