NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Part 1: About mesothelioma
The lungs are covered by a double layer of thin tissue
called the pleura. The pleura protects and cushions the
lungs. Its inner layer of tissue is called the visceral pleura.
This layer is directly attached to the lungs and extends
down into the spaces between the lobes of the lungs.
The outer layer of the pleura is called the parietal pleura.
It lines the chest wall and has contact with many body
parts in the chest. See Figure 1. The chest wall is
the layer of muscles and bones under the skin in the
The pleura is made of mesothelium and connective
tissue. Mesothelium is a single sheet of cells that
makes lubricating fluid. Connective tissue supports the
mesothelium and supplies it with blood. Connective
tissue attaches the pleura to other body parts.
There is space between the visceral and parietal pleura
called the pleural cavity. It is filled with a small amount of
pleural fluid made by the mesothelium. Pleural fluid acts
as a lubricant. It helps the two pleura layers slide against
each other during breathing. Plural fluid also helps the
lungs glide against other organs, such as the heart.
The same type of tissue as the pleura is found in other
areas of the body. However, it is called other names.
The tissue lining around the heart is called the
pericardium. The tissue lining around the belly
area between the chest and pelvis (abdomen) is
called the peritoneum. This booklet is about cancer
of the pleural mesothelium.
Figure 1. Pleural mesothelium
Illustration Copyright © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.