Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the protective layer, or also known as the thin tissue lining that surrounds most internal organs, but in the cases of mesothelioma, specifically only four organs. This lining is filled with tiny fluid sacs and is known as the mesothelium, which is where mesothelioma got its name.
Doctors diagnose mesothelioma in two ways. One, by where it is discovered in the body, which gives you the type of mesothelioma, and two by examining the structure of the cell type.
There are three main types of mesothelioma and coincidentally, three specific cell types. The various subtypes of mesothelioma are:
After locating where the tumor and cancer cells are developing, the doctors can identify its features to determine its cell type. Once the cell type is confirmed, this information they obtain will help better predict what the cancer’s progression will be, the likely response to treatment, and the patient’s survival time.
The three primary types of cells are: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Here is a short video that talks about the three cell types of mesothelioma. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vplrxpZs3ME&t
- Eptihelial Mesothelioma – This cell type accounts for 50 to 70 percent of all cases. It is the most common subtype of mesothelioma. This cell type usually responds the best to treatment and is associated with the best rate of survival. Papillary mesothelioma is a cell type and is also known as “well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma.” It is a rare subtype of the epithelial mesothelioma. It is a benign slow growing mesothelioma and typically responds very well to treatment. It commonly occurs in the abdomen of women but it can develop in the pleura.
- Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma – This cell type occurs in approximately 10 to 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It is the most aggressive form of mesothelioma and it has the lowest survival rate. Sarcomatioid is similar to other cancers and is sometimes confused with a form of lung cancer due to its similar appearance.
- Biphasic Mesothelioma – This cell type contains characteristics of both sarcomatoid cells and epithelial cells. Approximately 30 percent of mesothelioma cases are biphasic. Biphasic cells can differ from each other. Some may appear like epithelial while others may resemble sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells. Knowing what cell they resemble may influence the prognosis of the patient. Those biphasic tumors with a larger number of epithelial cells usually have a higher survival rate.
It is vital to obtain a biopsy of the built up cancer cells/tumor to verify cell type and confirm diagnosis. In order to improve survival rate, is essential to diagnose mesothelioma in it’s early stages. There are four traditional mesothelioma treatment options available with curative surgery being the most beneficial. This option is only available if the cancer is detected early on.
The main thing to remember about mesothelioma cell types is that patients diagnosed with epithelial cells have the best possible survival rate and life expectancy while sarcomatoid cells have the lowest because they spread and duplicate rapidly.