Mesothelioma Types

There are four different types of malignant mesothelioma, with each attacking a different area of the body. These four types can be further broken down into three different cell types. Understanding where a patient’s mesothelioma has taken hold, as well as what cell type their tumors are made of, is what guides every aspect of the patient’s treatment protocol.

The Four Types of Malignant Mesothelioma by Location

Malignant mesothelioma gets its name from the type of cells that it attacks: the mesothelial cells. The mesothelium is a specialized tissue that lines numerous cavities in the body. It allows the organs within to slide next to one another and facilitates the flow of fluids throughout the cavity and to the organs within. The four areas where the mesothelium is vulnerable to malignant mesothelioma are the lungs, the abdomen, the heart and the testes, and the mesothelioma types are referred to as follows:

  • Pleural (lungs) – Characterized by breathlessness, cough, fever, fatigue. Treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy. Prognosis with early diagnosis: 3+ years.
  • Peritoneal (abdomen) – Characterized by abdominal pain, bowel changes, bloating. Treated with heated chemotherapy and surgery. Prognosis with early diagnosis: 5+ years.
  • Pericardial (heart) – Characterized by chest pain, difficulty breathing, cough, irregular heartbeat. Treated with surgery. Prognosis with early treatment: 6+ months.
  • Testicular (testes) – Characterized by lumps in the testes, swelling in the scrotum. Treated with surgery and chemotherapy. Prognosis with early diagnosis: 2+ years.

Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common type and represents roughly 75% of all diagnosed cases. Following that, peritoneal mesothelioma makes up 10 to 20% of all cases, pericardial mesothelioma accounts for just 1% of all cases, and testicular cancer accounts for less than 1%. Each type of mesothelioma has its own unique symptoms, and each is deadly.

The Three Cell Types of Malignant Mesothelioma

It is important that diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma includes identification of cell type because different types of cells are more vulnerable to different types of treatment. The three types of cells seen in malignant mesothelioma are:

  • Epithelial – Identified in 50% of cases, this type responds best to chemotherapy.
  • Sarcomatoid – Identified in 20% of cases, this type of cell has proven most resistant to chemotherapy’s effects.
  • Biphasic – Identified in 30% of cases

A physician who is experienced in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma will work to ensure that your treatment plan is tailored to both the location of your tumors and their cell type.

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