While most mesothelioma cases are malignant, or cancerous, benign mesothelioma cases occur on rare occasions. Benign mesothelioma can affect different body parts, but it is non-cancerous, meaning it does not spread. Because it stays in one location, benign mesothelioma is not considered life-threatening. In fact, benign mesothelioma can often be completely removed with surgery.
Benign Pleural Mesothelioma
The most common benign mesothelioma is benign pleural mesothelioma, which is characterized by non-cancerous tumors in the lining surrounding the lungs. Benign pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 10% of all mesothelioma cases and primarily affects men. Although benign pleural mesothelioma is treatable, the tumors associated with the disease can press against the lungs, causing uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- chronic cough
Symptoms associated with benign pleural mesothelioma mimic those connected to malignant pleural mesothelioma, making it impossible to differentiate between the two without extensive testing. Despite these similarities, the two diseases are very different.
Most notably, benign pleural mesothelioma is curable whereas malignant pleural mesothelioma is universally fatal. In addition, benign pleural mesothelioma has no connection to asbestos exposure, but the leading cause of malignant pleural mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
Benign Cystic Mesothelioma
Another benign mesothelioma type is cystic mesothelioma. Benign cystic mesothelioma is a rare form of peritoneal mesothelioma characterized by cysts that develop in the lining around the abdomen. Unlike other mesothelioma types, benign cystic mesothelioma primarily affects young women. While the cause of benign cystic mesothelioma is unknown, most benign cystic mesothelioma patients have previously had a pelvic operation, endometriosis, and/or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Benign Cystic Mesothelioma Symptoms and Diagnosis
The most common benign cystic mesothelioma symptoms are pelvic pain and lower abdominal pain. Doctors usually recommend that these symptoms be treated with surgery to remove the cysts. Typically, benign cystic mesothelioma can be completely eradicated with surgery; however, the cysts tend to recur, or grow back.
Before benign cystic mesothelioma symptoms can be successfully treated, a correct diagnosis must be obtained. Unfortunately, benign cystic mesothelioma can be hard to diagnose due to the complicated procedures that must be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Specifically, tissue samples must be stained with antibodies and examined under a microscope in procedures called immunohistochemical studies and electron microscopy.
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