There are three cell types of the rare cancer called mesothelioma, and sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive of the three. The average survival for people diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma is less than one year.

The aggressive nature of sarcomatoid mesothelioma and the difficulty to remove all tumors and cells makes surgery difficult.

A case study published in the medical journal Surgical Case Reports offers hope that surgery can be effective for sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

How Lung-Removal Surgery Led to More than 10 Years Survival

The patient, a 63-year-old man, was diagnosed with sarcomatoid pleural mesothelioma after experiencing mesothelioma symptoms such as dyspnea, chest tightness and pleural thickening. After a computed tomography scan, the patient elected to have surgery since he still had an early stage of mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs. The tumors often spread quickly to the lungs, and surgery may involve removing the affected lung.

The patient underwent a type of mesothelioma surgery called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). This is a lung-removal surgery. Doctors removed the patient’s left lung along with the lining around the lungs (the pleura) where his mesothelioma tumors first formed. After surgery, the patient refused chemotherapy in favor of home oxygen therapy.

Remarkably, he has been cancer-free for more than 10 years thanks to EPP surgery.

 

Why Doctors Often Do Not Perform Surgery for Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

The two other mesothelioma cell types are epithelioid and biphasic. They are both more common than the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cell type and are both easier to treat with surgery.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells are difficult to identify, have an irregular shape and often multiple nuclei. They also spread in erratic patterns that are difficult to identify and remove during surgery.

Despite these concerns, the case reported above is an example of why surgery should be considered for sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Each patient is different and may qualify for surgery based on their stage, overall health and more.

If your first doctor does not want to do surgery, consider a second opinion. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, especially those with rare cell types like sarcomatoid, should seek a second opinion from a doctor specializing in mesothelioma. Getting a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist can significantly improve your chances of survival.

Contact Mesothelioma Guide patient advocate and registered nurse Karen Ritter at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com. She will help you find a doctor with experience performing mesothelioma surgery. She can also help get a second opinion.

Sources & Author

  1. Sarcomatoid malignant pleural mesothelioma: a case of long-term recurrence-free survival following curative intent surgery alone. Surgical Case Reports. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38819480/. Accessed: 06/04/2024.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the senior content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

    Sources & Author

Picture of Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.