Benign mesothelioma is a noncancerous tumor that forms in the lining of the lung or abdominal organ. A benign tumor will not spread the same way a cancerous or malignant tumor does, and it won’t attack nearby tissues. Benign mesothelioma is not common and can be difficult to diagnose because it may appear similar to certain types of cancer. Doctors may have a hard time determining if the tumor is malignant or benign. Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos; however, it is not known for certain whether asbestos causes the noncancerous tumors of benign mesothelioma. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has also explained that benign tumors develop in men more frequently than in women.
While malignant mesothelioma usually has a latency period of 20 to 50 years, benign mesothelioma can occur much sooner. Because it is not cancerous, benign mesothelioma is typically addressed quickly and easily. It may also act as an eye-opener to doctors who may want to monitor the patient for other asbestos-related diseases.
Furthermore, while malignant mesothelioma has an extremely high mortality rate, it is possible for those with benign mesothelioma to fully recover if immediate and effective action is taken.
Types of Benign Mesothelioma
Both malignant and benign tumors begin to grow in the mesothelial lining. This is a thin membrane that encases the organs and enables the organs to function. An adenomatoid tumor is one that occurs in the portion of the mesothelium that surrounds the reproductive organs—specifically, the epididymis in males and the fallopian tubes in females.
Benign cystic mesothelioma is another type of tumor that can develop near the female reproductive organs. A growth called a solitary fibrous tumor can develop in the pleural mesothelium (lining of the chest), but it is not considered mesothelioma because it actually begins in non-mesothelial cells.
Symptoms of Benign Mesothelioma
A benign tumor can grow considerably and can press on the organ that it is growing near. An individual may experience chest pain or discomfort, frequent coughing fits, and difficulty taking a full breath. Occasionally, individuals with benign mesothelioma may not have any symptoms at all.
Treating the Disease
The process for treating benign mesothelioma typically involves surgically removing the tumor. The most successful type of surgery is a resection, which entails removing the tumor and surrounding tissue. Benign tumors can come back up to 10 years after treatment. They may sometimes return in a cancerous form. If left untreated, benign mesothelioma may be life threatening. Complications such as pleural effusion can occur. Pleural effusion is when excessive fluid builds up in the lung lining. The fluid then leaks into other membranes. Pleural effusion may not be life threatening if it is addressed quickly and if the fluid is drained from the area.
Diagnosing the Disease
If you experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma, you should see a doctor immediately, especially if you have ever been exposed to asbestos. A doctor will be able to perform tests such as CT scans and X-rays to determine a diagnosis. A biopsy may be required as well. During a biopsy, tumor cells are removed and then examined for benign or malignant qualities. You may also be checked for asbestos-related conditions such as asbestosis, which is a chronic inflammation of the lung tissues. If you have asbestosis, you may be at a higher risk for lung cancer.
Once you are diagnosed and treated, you will need to return for checkups to ensure that the tumor has not returned. Your doctor can tell you what to look for in the future. It is essential to get a diagnosis and medical care right away because early treatment can provide a positive and successful outcome.