Most mesothelioma patients have an epithelioid cell type, which occurs in 70 percent of all diagnoses. It is the most treatable type of mesothelioma.
What is Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
Characteristics of Epithelioid Mesothelioma
Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common diagnosis and has the best prognosis. It is most common in white men over the age of 45 with a pleural diagnosis.
Epithelioid cells have a clearly defined, elongated egg-shape. Their visible nuclei make it easier to distinguish this cell type.
Epithelioid cells divide faster than other mesothelioma cell types, contributing to faster tumor growth. However, the cells stick to each other, which slows down metastasis.
They also closely resemble cell types that make up adenocarcinoma, breast cancer, and other forms of carcinoma (cancer that affects the lining of internal organs).
The symptoms of epithelioid mesothelioma may include: shortness of breath, chest pain or pleural effusions (fluid buildup). In order to diagnose a patient, a physician uses radiology or pathology examinations to see if there is a presence of malignant mesothelioma cells. After determining the presence of these cells, the physician may ask about asbestos exposure and take a biopsy.
If cancerous cells are found in the biopsy, a physician may use a process called immunohistochemistry. This process detects proteins that are used as cancer markers in the cellular makeup of a sample that is taken. This process is also the only way to definitively diagnose mesothelioma.
- Adenoid – Adenoid epithelioid cells may be present in all of the types of mesothelioma. They may also mimic other types of tumors, which may make it difficult to diagnose a patient.
- Small Cell – Small cell mesothelioma is distinct in the patterns of the shape of the cells. It is common in peritoneal mesothelioma patients and very difficult to treat.
- Cystic – Cystic mesothelioma cells are very rare and are generally found in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. It is more common in women than it is in men.
- Papillary – Papillary mesothelioma is far less aggressive than other forms, but it is also rare. It is usually found in the peritoneum.
- Deciduoid – Deciduoid mesothelioma is a rare cell type in pleural mesothelioma. However, it is very common in peritoneal, accounting for 50 percent of cases.
Some patients may be eligible for an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), which can significantly increase life expectancy. If tumors haven’t spread from the pleura to the actual lung patients may take advantage of a lung-sparing pleurectomy with decortication (P/D).
Those with epithelioid peritoneal mesothelioma may take advantage of cytoreductive surgery. There is no excepted staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma so finding a specialist and getting a second opinion are more important than ever.
However, other standard forms of treatment are also used, such as chemotherapy and radiation. There have also been successes with alternative treatment options, such as gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, and intensity modulated radiation therapy. These types of treatment methods are currently being researched in hopes of developing a mesothelioma cure.
There are many ways patients with epithelioid mesothelioma can improve their survival, such as seeing a specialist or opting for new treatments. Learn which methods mesothelioma survivors used to extend their life in our free Mesothelioma Survival Guide.