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Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer borne from contact with asbestos, a known human carcinogen found in many different products and materials today. Most forms of mesothelioma are malignant and terminal, with no known cure.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is a rare cell type, sometimes referred to as spindle cell mesothelioma. It accounts for only about 10% to 20% of mesothelioma diagnoses. It is a difficult type of mesothelioma to treat, with an average life expectancy of about six months from the date of diagnosis. Learn more about sarcomatoid mesothelioma, as well as your related legal rights, with help from a qualified mesothelioma lawyer in New York.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Resources

What Is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma describes a disease caused by asbestos exposure that changes the body’s cell characteristics. Sarcomatoid cells are identifiable by their elongated oval shapes and large nuclei. Some cells may contain multiple nuclei. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma typically forms in fibrous nodes or lesions. Sarcomatoid cells can spread quickly, or metastasize, throughout the body and affect other organs. This type of mesothelioma metastasizes faster than other types of mesothelioma. It is a more aggressive and dangerous form of cancer.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Prognosis

The prognosis for a patient with sarcomatoid mesothelioma is not good, on average. Sarcomatoid cells have the worst prognoses out of other cell types. The typical patient diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma receives a prognosis of six months to live. However, studies have shown some life expectancies extend to about 28 months. A patient’s prognosis will depend on many factors unique to him or her.

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Overall health
  • Cell type
  • Cancer type
  • Cancer phase
  • Treatment options

If a patient has biphasic mesothelioma, meaning more than one type of mesothelioma cells at the same time, his or her prognosis could be worse if there are more sarcomatoid cells than epithelioid cells. The average biphasic mesothelioma patient has a life expectancy of 12 months, rather than 6. However, the patient may have a worse prognosis if more than 10% of the malignant tumor is made up of sarcomatoid cells.

What Are the Symptoms of Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

It is often difficult for a doctor to diagnose sarcomatoid mesothelioma. The symptoms can vary and often mimic other diseases that are less serious, such as local tumors, pleural liposarcoma or pleuritis. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma symptoms can include the following:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Lack of appetite
  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Low iron
  • Weight loss
  • General weakness
  • Fatigue

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about a possible case of sarcomatoid mesothelioma – especially if you know you have been exposed to asbestos in the past. Keep in mind that the symptoms of sarcomatoid mesothelioma may not appear for decades after asbestos exposure.

How Is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Diagnosing sarcomatoid mesothelioma generally requires ruling out other potential causes of the patient’s symptoms with tests such as x-rays and MRIs to look inside the chest. Then, the doctor will take a biopsy, or tissue sample, to study it under a microscope. If the doctor sees spindle-shaped cells, this can help him or her diagnose sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Once the physician identifies sarcomatoid mesothelioma, he or she will conduct further tests to diagnose the subtype, if applicable.

Subtypes of Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

There are three subtypes, or rare variants, of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Diagnosing the subtype is important for choosing the correct treatment for a specific patient. Certain subtypes need more than just traditional treatments, making them more complicated to treat. The subtype can also determine a patient’s prognosis. The three subtypes are transitional mesothelioma, desmoplastic mesothelioma and lymphohistiocytoid mesothelioma. These are rare mesothelioma variants that only occur in a small percentage of patients.

Transitional mesothelioma metastasizes similarly to general sarcomatoid mesothelioma. However, its spindle-shaped cells are plump, differentiating it from other cells. Desmoplastic mesothelioma is more difficult to diagnose. With this form of cancer, 50% or more of the tumor will not show any detectable pattern of growth. With lymphohistiocytoid mesothelioma, the tumors contain inflammatory and immune cells. This variant comes with a better life expectancy than other types of sarcomatoid mesothelioma, on average.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Treatment

Treatment methods for sarcomatoid mesothelioma have the goal of making the patient more comfortable and extending his or her life expectancy as much as possible, not curing the cancer. This rare cell type has limited treatment options – especially for a patient with a sarcomatoid mesothelioma subtype.

  • Research suggests chemotherapy can extend life expectancy for some patients, although some studies find sarcomatoid cells are resistant to chemo.
  • Clinical trials for sarcomatoid mesothelioma show that immunotherapy treatments can be effective for patients who already received chemotherapy.
  • Radiation treatments. In some cases, a doctor may suggest radiation therapy as a palliative treatment to reduce the symptoms of sarcomatoid mesothelioma and improve quality of life.
  • Surgery, in some cases. Due to how fast sarcomatoid mesothelioma spreads, surgery might not be a viable option for some patients.

The appropriate treatment will depend on the patient and his or her particular diagnosis. Most patients receive multimodal treatments for effectiveness, meaning more than one treatment type. The right mesothelioma treatment regime could extend a patient’s life and make him or her more comfortable.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma FAQ

What are the basics of sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is an aggressive, fast-spreading cell type with a poor prognosis overall. It represents 10% to 20% of mesothelioma cases and can be resistant to treatment. The average life expectancy for someone with sarcomatoid mesothelioma ranges from 6 to 28 months.

Can you prevent sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

It may be possible to prevent sarcomatoid mesothelioma by avoiding exposure to asbestos. This is the main cause of all forms of mesothelioma. If you work in a field that could expose you to asbestos, such as construction, make sure your employer gives you the proper personal protective equipment.

Are lawsuits available for patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

Yes, it may be possible to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim for sarcomatoid mesothelioma. A civil claim may be available if the defendant (e.g. a product manufacturer, property owner or employer) reasonably should have prevented your illness, but negligently failed to do so. Discuss a potential sarcomatoid mesothelioma lawsuit with an attorney during a free consultation for more information.

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