Even at the cellular level, the characteristics of your mesothelioma cancer can have a big impact on your prognosis. It just so happens that Epithelioid Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the epithelial cells upon asbestos exposure, is one of the most studied and impressively, it has the best prognosis.
Approximately 50 – 70 percent of all mesothelioma cases are epithelioid, which means it’s the one most studied and has the best prognosis.
In this article, we are going to discuss the main facts about epithelioid mesothelioma – what it really is, its causes, treatment, diagnosis, and prognosis.
What is Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
Epithelioid Mesothelioma is a type of cellular mesothelioma cancer that affects the epithelial cells in the body. When exposed to asbestos, epithelial cells mutate into deadly mesothelioma cells. According to research, approximately 50-70% of all mesothelioma cases are epithelioid.
Unlike other types of mesothelioma cancers, patients with epithelioid mesothelioma often have more treatment options, and their prognosis is much better. The fact that it’s a common type of cancer makes it one of the most studied.
Characteristics of Epitheliod Mesothelioma
Epithelioid Mesothelioma has several distinguishable characteristics. They include;
- Cell Prevalence: Among all mesothelioma cases, it’s the most commonly diagnosed and studied cancer, and has the best prognosis. Research indicates that it’s most prevalent in white men over the age of 45 with a pleural diagnosis.
- Cell Behavior: Unlike other mesothelioma cell types, epithelioid mesothelioma cells tend to multiply much faster. This as a result causes a faster growth of the tumors. These cells however stick to each other which as a result tends to slow down spreading.
- Cell Description: Epithelioid cells are easily distinguishable as they are characterized by well-defined, elongated egg-shape. Their nuclei is highly visible, which makes it extremely easy to distinguish. Epithelioid cells have different subtypes which react differently to specific treatment programs. These subtypes include adenoid, cystic, small cell, papillary, and deciduoid.
Epithelioid mesothelioma cells grow and spread predominantly by local expansion into surrounding tissue and organs.
Epithelioid Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Due to the many studies conducted on the disease, its diagnosis is relatively easy. The epithelioid cells are said to account for approximately 70 percent of all pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. The cancerous cells are also found in peritoneal diagnosis.
Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma may experience various symptoms such as;
- Chest pain
- Build up of fluid
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Unintended weight loss
- Face swelling
Cancerous epithelial cells are usually diagnosed via radiology or pathology examinations to confirm the presence of the cells. A surgical biopsy may also be performed if there has been a past asbestos exposure. A tissue sample is taken during a biopsy to evaluate the type of cells it contains. If cancerous cells are discovered in the biopsy, the doctor may carry out a process known as immunohistochemistry to detect certain proteins that are used as cancer markers on the surface of the cells. Immunohistochemistry is used to identify epithelioid mesothelioma and also to differentiate it from adenocarcinoma.
Epithelioid Mesothelioma Treatment
After diagnosis, your doctor may recommend different treatment options to improve alleviate the symptoms, improve life quality, and extend your lifespan. These treatment options are similar to the ones used in other types of mesothelioma cancers, although they tend to be more effective since epithelioid mesothelioma responds well to treatment.
Common treatment options include;
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy- Found to increase life expectancy
- Pleurectomy with decortications- Used if the cancer has not metastasized to the lungs
- Radiation therapy
- Cytoreductive surgery
- Alternative treatment- Gene therapy or intensity modulated radiation or photodynamic therapy. Learn more about mesothelioma alternative treatments
Other treatments are currently being researched and may eventually bring a cure for all this type of cancer as well as all types of mesothelioma cancers.
Response to treatment and median survival for epithelioid mesothelioma is the best of the 3 cell types, generally between 18 and 24 months. More than 80% of patients live beyond 12 months.
Epithelioid Mesothelioma Survival Rate
As said earlier, the prognosis for epithelioid mesothelioma is much better compared to other types of mesothelioma cancers. Specifically, it has a much better survival rate compared to other cell subtypes such as sarcomatoid and biphasic.
The median survival time for patients with epithelioid mesothelioma is approximately 1 year after diagnosis. One study found that approximately 60% of the patients who were treated for this type of cancer extended their lifespan up to one year after the initial diagnosis. It was also found that approximately 25% of the patients survived for more than 5 years after diagnosis. However, various factors such as age, gender, stage of cancer, metastasis, and histology may affect the prognosis of the disease. Learn more about mesothelioma survival rate
Patients who opt for new treatments may significantly improve their chances of survival. Early diagnosis has also been found to be particularly important in improving its prognosis.