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Types of Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is largely caused by exposure to asbestos. There are a number of different types of mesothelioma that impact various parts of the body: all of them are similar, and all are deadly.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or any other asbestos-related disease, it is important that you learn everything you can about the disease, including the fact that you may be eligible to receive significant compensation as a result of having been exposed to asbestos. We are dedicated to making sure that your rights are protected and that you have all the information you need about the $30 billion asbestos trust funds, as well as your right to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against those responsible for your illness. Contact us today to learn more and to receive a free Financial Compensation Packet.

Mesothelioma is diagnosed in approximately 3,500 people in the United States every year, and many more worldwide. Most of those who receive this diagnosis are men between the ages of 50 and 80 whose work or occupational setting put them at risk of asbestos exposure. Statistically, most victims are Caucasian and were employed in steel mills, factories, or military bases, though there are also many victims who are female or younger males of a diverse range of ethnicities and backgrounds. In most cases, women who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma were either family members of men who worked with the carcinogenic material or who worked as nurses in military settings or as teachers in schools that had been constructed with asbestos.

There are several different types of mesothelioma. All of them attack the mesothelium, a specialized organ that is found in different areas of the body and which serves to line the organs and allow them to move easily next to one another. Mesothelioma types are differentiated based upon the area of the body where it is located.

  • Pleural Mesothelioma – this is the most frequently diagnosed form of mesothelioma. It forms in the mesothelium that lines the organs found in the chest, and particularly around the lungs. One of the earliest signs of pleural mesothelioma is the formation of pleural plaques in the chest and around the lungs.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma – this second-most common form of the disease is diagnosed in roughly 500 patients per year. It forms in the peritoneal cavity, where the abdominal organs are located.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma – this is one of the rarest forms of the disease. It forms in the pericardium, which is the cavity in which the heart is located. The location of this form of mesothelioma makes it extremely difficult to treat.

No matter where in the body mesothelioma is located, this deadly disease is highly challenging, and in all cases is considered lethal. Treatment protocols include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These methodologies are often combined in a multimodality approach that can be used either to try to extend survival time (curative) or to make a patient more comfortable (palliative).

Histology of Mesothelioma

In addition to breaking mesothelioma down into types based upon its location within the body, it is also necessary to identify its cell type. There are three different classifications of mesothelioma histology, and each has its own distinct characteristics.

  • Epithelial Mesothelioma – this cell type is the most commonly seen, and is identified in roughly 7 out of 10 mesothelioma patients. The cell structure of epithelial mesothelioma is characterized by prominent papillo-tubular structures. This type of mesothelioma cell is most responsive to available therapies, and generally offers the longest survival rates and prognosis.
  • Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma – this cell type is only seen in 1 or 2 out of every ten mesothelioma patients. It is the most aggressive form of mesothelioma and is extremely challenging to treat effectively. This is due in part to the cell type’s extreme aggressiveness. The cell structure is extremely different from those of epithelial mesothelioma: it has no nucleus and is shaped differently – more like a spindle. One of the challenges of sarcomatoid mesothelioma is that its cells look much like healthy cells, so it is difficult to differentiate the two.
  • Biphasic Mesothelioma – this cell type is also seen in 1 or 2 out of every ten mesothelioma patients. Patients with biphasic mesothelioma exhibit structural forms that seem to be a combination of the two types.

In addition to these three mesothelioma types that are seen following asbestos exposure, there are other types of mesothelioma that deserve mention here:

  • Papillary mesothelioma is extremely rare, and as a result there is no standard course of recommended treatment. It is identified in females and is found in the abdominal lining. It is usually painless and the tumors are benign.
  • Cystic mesothelioma is another rare and benign form of the disease that strikes females victims.
  • Small cell mesothelioma is a lethal form of the disease that is extremely rare and is poorly understood.
  • Heterologous mesothelioma is one of the most mysterious forms of the disease. Few physicians or researchers have encountered patients with this type of mesothelioma
  • Deciduoid mesothelioma is extremely different from all other types of mesothelioma, and is extremely rare. Most patients succumb to the disease within six months.
  • Lymphohistiocytoid mesothelioma is seen in fewer than 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases, but has a less lethal prognosis depending upon the individual patient’s overall health.
  • Desmoplastic mesothelioma is a subset of sarcomatoid mesothelioma and has an extremely short expected survival time.

Identifying mesothelioma type based upon its histology is a challenging task that is accomplished with the help of pathologists, who analyze tissue and fluid samples to look for clues. Unfortunately, the existing science is still not able to differentiate between mesothelioma and other cancer cell types with complete accuracy. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to seek diagnosis and treatment at a specialized cancer or mesothelioma treatment center, that has extensive experience in analyzing and identifying cells.

Staging Mesothelioma

In addition to identifying the type of mesothelioma that an individual patient has, it is equally important that those who are diagnosed with this disease go through a process called staging, which carefully assesses how far mesothelioma has progressed throughout the body. Staging provides the cancer care team with a roadmap that can guide them in choosing the most appropriate course of treatment for their individual situation. For some patients staging is done with the help of diagnostic imaging, though in many cases a biopsy may be done in order to determine whether cancer cells are present in different areas of the body or systems. No matter what the type of mesothelioma cell a pleural mesothelioma patient has been diagnosed with, it is staged from levels beginning with Ia and progressing to IV.

  • Stage Ia – Mesothelioma tumor identified in the parietal pleura (outer layer) but not yet in the visceral pleura.
  • Stage Ib – Mesothelioma tumors identified in the parietal pleura as well as the visceral pleura.
  • Stage II – Mesothelioma tumors identified in the parietal and visceral pleuras, as well as the lung or diaphragm.
  • Stage III – Mesothelioma tumors have moved beyond the pleurae and have spread to the chest wall, lymph glands inside the chest, or pericardium.
  • Stage IV – Mesothelioma tumors have advanced across the chest wall to the organs, including the heart, liver, esophagus, opposite lung or wind pipe.

One of the most challenging aspects of mesothelioma is the fact that it has such an extremely long latency period: the disease can progress to a stage beyond Stage II before it begins to show symptoms, making it common for diagnosis to occur only when it is too late for effective treatment to be offered.

Legal Help

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the asbestos companies or from the asbestos bankruptcy trusts. We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-793-4540 to get a free Financial Compensation Packet filled with information about the reimbursement and compensation that you may be eligible to receive.