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Mesothelioma of the Tunica Vaginalis

Pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma account for the vast majority of all diagnoses of mesothelioma– the former affects the lining of the lungs, and the latter the lining of the abdomen.  However, pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis do occur.  Each type of the cancer is primarily caused by asbestos exposure and inhaling the fibers into the lungs. Currently, there are no known cures for the diseases.

The majority of analyses on these diseases have been carried out on individual case studies. Because of this, developing effective treatment plans for these rare cancers has been a serious problem.  The medical literature only describes a few hundred cases of primary pericardial mesothelioma and even fewer cases of the tunica vaginalis.

Function of the Tunica Vaginalis

The tunica vaginalis is the mesothelial tissue that encases the testis. It is an outgrowth from the peritoneum and is formed during fetal development. It is made up of a visceral layer (visceral lamina) and a parietal layer (parietal lamina). The visceral layer covers the greater part of the testis and the epididymis, while the parietal layer covers a larger area, reaching upward and below the testis, including it and some surrounding tissue as well. Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis is the rarest of mesothelioma malignancies, with fewer than one hundred individual cases in the literature.

Mesothelioma of the Tunica Vaginalis

As in other forms of the asbestos-related cancer, incidence has mainly targeted men over the age of 50. It typically presents as a testicular mass and is often pre-operatively misdiagnosed as testicular cancer. Surgery has been the preferred treatment modality, although many doctors expect Alimta and cisplatin to have beneficial effects as well. While metastatic behavior has been reported, localized malignancy seems to be the norm with this rare cancer.  Individual prognosis reports seem to be quite varied: in some cases, the tumor presented with aggressive behavior, while other patients experienced long-term remission. In general, median survival averages twenty-three months. Age at time of diagnosis greatly affects prognosis: the literature notes that men under 60 have shown significantly better survival rates than man over 60 have.

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