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Sarcomatoid and Biphasic Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. The term mesothelioma refers to all forms of the disease, but there are different sub-types of mesothelioma: epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic mesothelioma. Because the patient’s prognosis and treatment will be determined by which type of mesothelioma is diagnosed, it is important to understand the differences between the three.

Understanding Epithelioid Mesothelioma

Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma; with research showing as much as 70% of all mesothelioma diagnoses are epithelioid mesothelioma. The word ‘epithelioid’ indicates that the mesothelioma cells are developing from the body’s epithelial cells, which are present in the:

  • lining of the lungs and esophagus
  • lining surrounding all major organs in the abdomen
  • lymph vessels

Since epithelioid mesothelioma responds better to treatment, diagnosed asbestos cancer victims can expect a:

  • more comprehensive treatment regime
  • longer expected lifespan than patients diagnosed with biphasic or sarcomatoid mesothelioma at the same stage

Understanding Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

Doctors estimate that only 10% of mesothelioma diagnoses are malignant sarcomatoid mesothelioma, which makes it the rarest type. The word ‘sarcomatoid’ indicates that the mesothelioma cells resemble sarcoma, a different form of cancer. Both sarcomatoid mesothelioma and sarcoma develop in the connective tissues of the body, commonly the:

  • fibers that hold the internal organs, bones, and muscles in place, such as tendons,
  • muscle tissues, and
  • joints and surrounding tissues.

The cells of sarcomatoid mesothelioma and sarcoma appear similar when viewed under a microscope. Because of this, doctors believe that many cases of sarcomatoid mesothelioma are misdiagnosed as sarcoma, particularly when the patient is not aware they were exposed to asbestos. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma:

  • is a very aggressive disease
  • has fewer mesothelioma treatment options, as its location makes it difficult to treat
  • has a poor prognosis

Understanding Biphasic Mesothelioma

Biphasic means ‘two parts.' Biphasic mesothelioma means that the mesothelioma is present as two different types, sarcomatoid and epithelioid. Biphasic mesothelioma is more common than sarcomatoid mesothelioma. This is partly due to the way that asbestos enters the body; asbestos that is inhaled or ingested is much more likely to come into contact with epithelioid tissue. Biphasic mesothelioma:

  • will typically be present in two or more locations
  • is easier to diagnose accurately
  • has the poorest prognosis

Differences between Epithelioid, Sarcomatoid, and Biphasic Mesothelioma

Epithelioid and sarcomatoid develop in different types of tissue, so it is rare for these types of mesothelioma to be mistaken for one another. However, each may be misdiagnosed as a different form of cancer. Biphasic mesothelioma develops in both types of tissue and, therefore, takes on characteristics of both diseases. Where these diseases vary the most is in recommended treatment and patient outcomes.

  • Epithelioid mesothelioma patients often receive multimodal treatment, since epithelioid mesothelioma responds to most treatments equally. Patient survival can be two years or longer.
  • Sarcomatoid mesothelioma patients often receive chemotherapy. Surgery is not usually recommended due to the cancer’s location. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma does not respond well to radiation therapy. Patient life expectancy is typically six to 12 months.
  • Biphasic mesothelioma patients may receive a combination of therapies. Depending on the stage of the disease, palliative care may be the best treatment available. Most cases are fatal within six months.

No matter which diagnosis a patient receives, a mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating. The asbestos attorneys of Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason know this and file lawsuits on behalf of victims and their families against the companies responsible for asbestos exposure, helping affected individuals receive just compensation. Please call us for a no-obligation evaluation at 1-800-440-4262.