More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year.

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1 This information is an extract from the booklet Understanding mesothelioma. You may find the full booklet helpful. We can send you a free copy see page 5. Contents Introduction Pleural mesothelioma Peritoneal mesothelioma Rare types of mesothelioma Cell types of mesothelioma Introduction More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year. Mesothelioma is a tumour of the mesothelium. This is the thin lining (membrane) that covers the outer surface of most of our body s organs. The mesothelium has different names in different parts of the body. For example: in the chest it s called the pleura in the abdomen it s called the peritoneum. A cancer of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma. However, it s usually referred to simply as mesothelioma. There are other tumours of the mesothelium, such as adenomatoid tumours, benign cystic mesotheliomas and solitary fibrous tumours of the pleura. We have more information available about these. This section is about malignant mesothelioma. There are two main types of malignant mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 1 of 5

2 Pleural mesothelioma is much more common than peritoneal mesothelioma. Around 9 out of 10 cases (90%) of mesothelioma develop in the pleura, compared with around 1 in 10 (10%) in the peritoneum. Pleural mesothelioma Peritoneal mesothelioma Ratio of pleural mesothelioma to peritoneal mesothelioma Pleural mesothelioma The pleura is the smooth outer lining (membrane) that covers each lung. It has two layers: the inner (visceral) layer, which is next to the lung, and the outer (parietal) layer, which lines the chest wall. The two layers of the pleura are usually in contact and slide over each other as we breathe. The layers produce fluid, which allows them to move smoothly over each other. When mesothelioma develops in the pleura (pleural mesothelioma), the delicate layers of the pleura thicken and may press inwards on the lung. Fluid may also collect between the two layers, which is known as a pleural effusion. We have more information available about pleural effusion which we can send to you. Pleural mesothelioma can sometimes spread to the lymph nodes in the chest or above the collarbone, or elsewhere in the body. Page 2 of 5 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

3 Windpipe (trachea) Right bronchus Ribs Pleural cavity Diaphragm Lymph nodes Outer pleura Left bronchus Inner pleura Structure of the lungs and pleura Peritoneal mesothelioma The outer lining (membrane) that covers the organs in the abdomen is known as the peritoneum. The peritoneum helps protect the organs of the abdomen and keep them in place. It also has two layers: the inner (visceral) layer, which is next to the abdominal organs, and the outer (parietal) layer, which lines the abdominal wall. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 3 of 5

4 Peritoneum Bowel Womb Bladder Rectum (back passage) Side view of the abdomen. The peritoneum is shown as the thick line surrounding the abdominal organs. Mesothelioma in the peritoneum is called peritoneal mesothelioma. It causes thickening of the peritoneum and a collection of fluid in the abdomen. The collection of fluid is called ascites and causes swelling of the tummy (abdomen). We have more information about treatments to control symptoms of periotoneal mesothelioma which we can send to you. Rare types of mesothelioma Very rarely, a mesothelioma may develop in the outer lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) or in the outer lining of the testes (testicular mesothelioma). These are not discussed in this booklet. If you d like information about them, contact our cancer information specialists on Page 4 of 5 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

5 Cell types of mesothelioma Pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma can also be grouped according to how the cells look under a microscope. There are three main types: epithelial this is the most common sarcomatoid (fibrous) mixed (biphasic) this has both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. More information and support Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way, from the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment to the campaigners improving cancer care. We are Macmillan Cancer Support. To order a copy of Understanding mesothelioma, visit be.macmillan.org.uk or call We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date but it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialist professional advice tailored to your situation. So far as is permitted by law, Macmillan does not accept liability in relation to the use of any information contained in this publication, or third-party information or websites included or referred to in it. Macmillan Cancer Support Registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Registered office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UQ REVISED IN MAY 2013 Planned review in 2015 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 5 of 5

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