Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. However, there is a form of the disease that is not cancerous (benign) rather than malignant (cancerous) and is composed of a single tumor usually within the lining of the lung or within the lining of abdominal organ. A benign, or noncancerous, tumor is one that does not invade other surrounding tissues and does not spread in the manner seen with cancerous tumors.
Benign mesothelioma, also known as benign-fibrous type, is now referred to within the medical community as Solitary Fibrous Tumor of the Pleura if the tumor is found in the lining of the lungs, or Solitary Fibrous Tumor of the Peritoneum if found in the abdomen.
The mesothelial lining that surrounds all internal organs is a thin membrane that aids in the various organ movements needed for function. This is where malignant and benign tumors originate in all forms of mesothelioma. It is much more likely that the benign tumor will form within the lining of the lungs than elsewhere just as in cancerous forms of the disease.
Causes of Mesothelioma There seems to be differing medical opinions as to whether benign mesothelioma is also caused by asbestos, as is the case with all asbestos cancer/malignant mesothelioma types. Many in the medical community feel that it is also caused by asbestos, though newer research may show it may not be. It was also originally thought that benign mesothelioma affected more men than woman just as cancerous forms do, although it may be that the benign form may affect each sex equally.
If your doctor feels you may have benign mesothelioma, he or she will examine you very carefully to see if you have any other conditions that may also be related to asbestos exposure, such as asbestosis. Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory condition of tissues within the lungs. Those with asbestosis are at increased risk for future lung cancers including malignant forms of mesothelioma, although you can develop mesothelioma without first having asbestosis.
Benign mesothlioma is extremely rare and accounts for only a tiny percentage of all mesothelioma cases, as most of the time mesothelial tumors prove to be cancerous. However, mesothelioma diagnosis can often be difficult as this disease can often look like many other forms of cancer. Often it can also be difficult at first to determine whether the tumor is malignant or benign. Various diagnostic tests will need to be performed for an appropriate diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Symptoms Although benign, the tumor can actually grow quite large in size and begin to compress on the lung (or abdominal organs). This will cause many of the same symptoms as seen in malignant mesothelioma such as chest pain and discomfort, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. A physical exam with your doctor may also reveal clubbing of the fingers. However, about half of all patients with this disease have no symptoms at all.
It is important that you seek medical advice right away if you experience any of these symptoms regardless of how slight they may seem, as prompt treatment results in a much better outcome. This is especially important if you have been exposed to asbestos at any time throughout your life.
Your doctor will most likely need to perform many tests to find a diagnosis. Some of these tests include chest x-rays, CT scans and lung biopsies. A biopsy is when cells are removed and analyzed to aid in diagnosing a medical disorder or disease. Sometimes a diagnosis cannot be determined until surgery is performed and the tumor cells can be analyzed in more detail.
Treatment for benign mesothelioma involves surgery to remove the tumor and is usually always needed for this condition. The surgery of choice is a surgical resection, which seems to be the most effective treatment. Sometimes an accurate diagnosis cannot be determined until surgery is performed and the tumor cells can be analyzed in more detail.
Benign mesothelioma can return even if the original treatment and tumor removal are successful. This can happen up to 10 years after the first occurrence. Sometimes when benign mesothelioma comes back, it will return as a cancerous form of mesothelioma. Your doctor can help advise you of what to expect and watch for in the future. You will also most likely need regular checkups for quite some time to be sure it has not returned.
Pleural Effusion Benign mesothelioma can severely affect health and even be life threatening if not treated. The most common complication that occurs with this diagnosis is pleural effusion. This is when fluid from the lining of the lung leaks out and into other membranes and the cavity of the lung. This is usually not life threatening if treated. Usually the fluid can be easily drained out of the affected area.
It is extremely important to seek prompt medical attention if you suffer from any symptoms associated with mesothelioma such as shortness of breath or chest pain, as they are very similar whether malignant or benign. It is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible so that you can receive prompt treatment. The earlier your condition is diagnosed and treated, the more likely you are to have a better prognosis.