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This form of cancer is quite rare. In its cases cancerous (malignant) cells are located in a sac that protects the majority of the internal organs of the body covering them.
The mesothelium, covering the majority of internal organs consists of two cells layers: The first directly covers the organ; the sac around it is formed of the second layer. A lubricating fluid produced by the mesothelium gives the possibility to the moving organs like heart or lungs slide without difficulties aside from neighboring structures.
The name of the mesotheliun depends on the fact where in the body it is located. The majority of the organs located in the abdominal cavity are covered with the peritoneum. The lungs are surrounded by the pleura lining the chest cavity wall. The heart is protected by the pericardium.
Cancer of the mesothelium (mesothelioma) makes mesothelium cells abnormal and forces them to multiply in an uncontrolled way without any order. Such multiplication may cause damage through invasion to neighboring organs and tissues. There is also a possibility for cancerous cells to spread (metastasize) to other locations of the body from their original site. Pleura or peritoneum are the most common sources of mesothelioma.
Sarcomatous, epithelial, and mixed are 3 general types of mesothelioma. Discrete plaques and nodules coalescing and resulting in the production of a sheetlike neoplasm is a common beginning of pleural mesothelioma. The tumor is usually start growing from the bottom part of the chest. The surface of the lung and interlobar fissures can be encased due to the invasion of the tumor to the diaphragm.
Drainage and thoracotomy tracts can also become the means of the tumor growth. While the tumor is growing it spreads to pulmonary parenchyma, mediastinum, and chest wall. Esophagus, ribs, vertebra, brachial plexus, and superior vena cava are possible locations for pleural mesothelioma extension.
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