Mesothelioma is a poorly understood health condition. The purpose of this article is to help people understand mesothelioma and learn about mesothelioma cell types.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a general term that applies to both a type of cancer and a benign-condition. In a cancer-context, the term refers to a cancer of mesothelial tissue, which is known to be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos itself is a term used to discuss six naturally occurring silicate minerals. Throughout history, asbestos has been used as building materials because they are electrical insulators and have high heat resistance but in the 1970s research started to uncover the link between a range of deadly health conditions and the material. In the time since asbestos has been banned in a number of countries, but given how recently it was banned, the number of people thought to die each year because of health conditions caused or worsened by asbestos exposure is around 107,000 annually on a global scale.
Facts About Mesothelioma:
In the United States, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. There are four primary types of malignant mesothelioma which are categorized based on where the tumors developed. In order of most common to least common the tumor locations are: pleural (the lining of the lungs), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (the heart), and testicular. Mesothelioma cell types are another noteworthy factor, a factor that can affect the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the prognosis of the condition, and viable treatment options. The most common cell types are sarcomatoid and epithelioid.
Pleural mesothelioma or mesothelioma which forms in the lining of the lungs is above and beyond the most commonly diagnosed form of mesothelioma. 80% of all diagnosed mesothelioma are pleural. Tragically this form of mesothelioma tends to evade a definitive diagnosis until it begins to mature and intensify. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue, which is part of how it evades diagnosis. Those symptoms are commonly attributed to other conditions, which when coupled with the long latency period after pleural mesothelioma patients were initially exposed to asbestos, makes diagnosis difficult. The five-year survival rate of patients with this condition is about 5%.
Mesothelioma of the abdomen is the second most common type of the condition, being diagnosed in about 15-20% of all mesothelioma patients. The symptoms of this condition are weight loss, abdominal fluid, and abdominal swelling. This particular form of mesothelioma is one of the ones with a better life expectancy rate, because of treatments like surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Remarkably peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a one-year survival rate of 92% and over half of all patients who undergo both surgery and HIPEC live for five years or more.
Pericardial mesothelioma is the second rarest form of the condition and is diagnosed in less than 50 people in the United States annually. Symptoms of the condition include but are not limited to chest pain and arrhythmia. The rarity of the condition reduces research into it and complicates treatments. Patients survive six months most commonly, and a one-year survival rate is just 51%. Most patients have palliative care options to help alleviate symptoms and suffering, and little else.
Testicular mesothelioma has occurred in the past but is incredibly rare. There have been a total of 100 diagnosed cases in the existing medical literature. It begins by developing in the testicular lining, and symptoms include a mass on the testicle, scrotal swelling, and testicle pain. Despite its rarity, those who have it have a higher life expectancy than other forms, but the condition commonly recurs. The average prognosis is about two years, but nearly 93% of patients experience it again.
Mesothelioma Cell Types:
There are two types of mesothelioma cells that will be discussed today. The first is the epithelioid cell type. This is both more common and easier to treat, accounting for nearly 75% of all cases of mesothelioma and patients with this type have an average life expectancy of 12-24 months.
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the least common and most deadly cell type. It accounts for somewhere between 10-20% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases and leaves patients with a prognosis of about six months.
Some patients suffer from both types of cells being present, resulting in what’s called biphasic mesothelioma. The treatment options and prognosis vary for these patients, depending among other things on which cells are more common.
Understanding mesothelioma can help friends and family comfort patients, as well as aid patients in understanding treatment options and the importance of early diagnosis.Mesothelioma Cell Types