Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the tissues that line the organs of the chest, abdomen, or other regions of the body. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to tiny inhalable asbestos fibers, which become lodged in body tissue causing inflammation and eventually cancer.
Different forms of mesothelioma can be classified histologically, meaning according to their cellular make up. The histological make up of a patient’s cancer is an important determination of prognosis and treatment. The three histological types of mesothelioma are sarcomatoid, epithelioid, and biphasic.
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the least common and most aggressive type. Sarcomatoid cells are elongated and shaped liked little spindles. Sarcomatoid cells can be difficult to identify, delaying a mesothelioma diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Sarcomatoid cells spread more quickly to other areas of the body than epitheliod cells, making it a more difficult cancer to treat. As with other forms of mesothelioma, treatment consists of surgical options, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. All forms of mesothelioma have a relatively poor prognosis with these treatments, and patients are encouraged to take part in clinical trials.
Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common histological type and accounts for approximately 60% of all mesothelioma cases. Epithelioid cells have a uniform size and shape, resembling small tubes. Epithelial mesothelioma is easily confused with another form of cancer known as adenocarcinoma. The two types of cells are difficult to distinguish under a microscope. Epithelioid mesothelioma responds better to treatment than other mesothelioma subtypes, because it is more likely to be confined to one area of the body.
Patients with pleural mesothelioma may be considered for an extrapleuralpneumonectomy, a serious surgery involving the removal of the effected lung, the linings of the heart and lungs, and a portion of the patient’s diaphragm. Survival rates for epithelioid mesothelioma patients are more promising than sarcomatoid and biphasic patients, with approximately 60% surviving more than one year following diagnosis.
Patients with biphasic mesothelioma have both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cell types. Because sarcomatoid cells are more likely to spread to other areas of the body, an accurate diagnosis of biphasic mesothelioma is essential for effective treatment. Biphasic mesothelioma patients are not normally considered to be good candidates for extrapleuralpneumonectomy. Survival rates for biphasic mesothelioma patients depend upon the stage of the cancer at discovery, but overall prognosis is poorer than patients with only epithelioid cell mesothelioma cell types.
Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with a form of malignant mesothelioma, you may feel overwhelmed. With the pressures of a serious medical condition and the prospect of aggressive and painful treatments, you want to put all of your energy into spending time with loved ones and focusing on your medical care. Legal compensation is available for victims of negligent exposure to toxic asbestos fibers, even if that exposure occurred many decades ago.
Call an experienced mesothelioma law firm today, to discuss your options. With decades of experience serving mesothelioma patients and their families, Bergman Draper Oslund is here for you.
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