The benign version of this disease is not deadly. Tumors can be surgically removed and do not usually require additional treatment.
What is Benign Mesothelioma?
This noncancerous form of mesothelioma isn’t fully understood but usually only requires one treatment to overcome. There are several types of benign mesothelioma, all of which are rare. Benign mesothelioma has many differences from its malignant twin—namely, the survival rate of malignant mesothelioma is very short in comparison to benign mesothelioma.
Key Points on Benign Mesothelioma
Benign mesothelioma is typically discovered accidentally. Doctors usually discover the disease during X-rays or CT scans performed for other reasons. A histology report is still required for a definite diagnosis.
This type of mesothelioma is exceedingly rare. There are staggeringly fewer cases of benign mesothelioma than its malignant counterpart, which is itself considered a very rare disease.
Benign mesothelioma tumors can be removed through surgery and typically don’t require any follow-up treatment. Benign tumors may return over time, and some have the potential to become malignant.
Types of Benign Mesothelioma
There are several different types of benign mesothelioma tumors. These tumors vary based on location and cellular structure. Most develop in the lining of the abdomen, which is known as the peritoneum. This differs from the malignant version, which most often develops in the lining of the lungs. Learn more about these benign variations of mesothelioma in our free Mesothelioma Guide.
Benign cystic mesothelioma
This type of tumor originates in the peritoneum (abdominal lining). This type of tumor usually presents itself in women of reproductive age—one study found the average age of women with this tumor is 34. These tumors have a high rate of recurrence but are known for being harmless. There have been a little over 100 cases of this tumor since its appearance was first recognized in 1979.
Well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma
Similar to benign cystic mesothelioma, this type of tumor often appears in the peritoneum of young women but may also present itself in the lining of the lungs. This type of mesothelioma is defined as benign, but it may develop into a malignant form of mesothelioma.
Benign adenomatoid tumors
These tumors can originate in the lining of the lungs, but are most often found in the reproductive organs of patients. There is a malignant form of adenomatoid mesothelioma that differs in cellular structure from the benign form.
Localized fibrous tumor of the pleura
These types of tumors used to be known as “benign fibrous mesothelioma.” However, doctors eventually discovered that these benign tumors don’t originate in the mesothelial cells. About 1 out of 10 cases are cancerous, and tumors may recur up to 10 years later. Long-term survival is common even in cases where the tumor is malignant.
Benign vs. Malignant
Benign mesothelioma is even more rare than the malignant form of the disease. Unlike its malignant form, the origins of benign mesothelioma aren’t known. Unlike malignant mesothelioma, benign mesothelioma tumors usually only require one treatment. Other differences in benign versus malignant tumors are:
- Asbestos – Benign mesothelioma isn’t the result of asbestos exposure. The cause of the disease isn’t known.
- Latency period – Benign mesothelioma doesn’t have a latency period like its malignant counterpart. The benign tumor can develop at any age.
- Symptoms – The symptoms of benign mesothelioma can be similar to malignant mesothelioma depending on the size of the tumor.
- Survival rate – As its name implies, benign mesothelioma isn’t deadly. It does require surgery to remove the tumor, but further treatment is rarely needed.
- Metastasis – Unlike malignant mesothelioma, the benign tumors don’t spread to other organs or lymph nodes. However, they do continue to grow.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Sometimes, patients may complain of symptoms such as chronic abdominal pain leading to a diagnosis. Most of the time, benign mesothelioma is found during imaging tests that are being taken for purposes other than finding benign mesothelioma. These imaging tests aren’t accurate enough to diagnose benign mesothelioma, however.
Biopsies are the best way to diagnose benign mesothelioma. The type of biopsy procedure depends on the location and size of the tumor.
It is important to remove the tumor to alleviate symptoms and avoid the development of a malignant form of the disease. Relapse may occur with some benign mesothelioma tumors, and in some cases, the tumor may become cancerous. The types of surgeries used to remove benign mesothelioma tumors are the same procedures used for malignant cases.
If you’ve been experiencing any symptoms of mesothelioma, benign or malignant, connect with a specialist using our free Doctor Match program.