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While some people do speak of benign mesothelioma (a non-cancerous tumor growth), this type of mesothelioma is rare. Most types of asbestos mesothelioma are malignant mesothelioma, diseases characterized by cancerous tumor growth originating in the mesothelial lining of the lung, chest, or abdominal cavities. The types of mesothelioma are distinguished based on what mesothelial tissues are affected.
While some people talk of a benign mesothelioma, this is somewhat of a misnomer—since, by definition, mesothelioma is a type of cancer, and is therefore a form of malignancy. That said, there is a condition called “Solitary Fibrous Tumor of the Pleura,” which some refer to as benign mesothelioma. This is a non-cancerous tumor that forms in the mesothelial lining of the lungs (called the pleural lining). Benign mesothelioma is actually quite rare.
Pleural mesothelioma is a type of mesothelioma that affects the mesothelial lining of the chest cavity and the lungs, which is called the pleura or the pleural membrane. This is the most common type of malignant mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects only 10 to 30 percent of all patients diagnosed with this rare but aggressive asbestos cancer, targets the lining of the abdominal cavity, a type of mesothelial lining called the peritoneum.
Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the heart, is the most rare of the three main types of mesothelioma. In fact, less than 150 cases of pericardial mesothelioma in the US and 200 worldwide have been documented. Half of all pericardial tumors are considered malignant mesothelioma.