Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is a rare but dangerous cancer caused by exposure to asbestos particles suspended in the air. Sarcomatoid cells metastasize faster than other mesothelioma cell types, causing the formation of cancerous tumors in other areas of the body. This makes sarcomatoid the most dangerous cell type, though new treatments are leading to longer life expectancies. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma only accounts for about 10-15 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This type of tumor has also been called sarcomatous, diffuse malignant fibrous and spindled mesothelioma.
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is most frequently found in the pleural cavity. The lungs are lined with two mesothelial layers that allow the lungs to expand and contract within the chest. It commonly develops by inhaling or exposure to Asbestos and usually a connection to most cases of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Gradually, asbestos particles trapped in the lining can cause cancer cells to grow, eventually restricting the lungs from moving freely.
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is very hard to diagnose, and many patients are misdiagnosed at first.
Common misdiagnoses for sarcomatoid mesothelioma
• Pleural liposarcoma
• Localized fibrous tumors
• Fibrous pleurisy
• Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
• Metastasized renal cell carcinoma
If a patient’s symptoms and work history suggest an asbestos-related disease, doctors will first order an imaging test such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI. However, to determine the cell type for a diagnosis, doctors need to retrieve tumor tissue through a biopsy.
Symptoms of Sarcomatoid mesothelioma
Symptoms related to this type of cancer are similar to the symptoms of other mesothelioma cell types:
• Shortness of breath
• Persistent cough
• Low oxygen levels
• Weight loss and weakness
• Anorexia and nausea
• Prolonged hoarseness
• Coughing up blood
• Abdominal “fullness”
For sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the pleura, symptoms can include shortness of breath, weight loss, and weakness. In sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the peritoneum, abdominal “fullness”, pain, anorexia and nausea are common symptoms.
The median survival for patients with sarcomatoid tumors is typically less than six months, but some patients live longer, depending on factors like age and overall health. Patients with the lymphohistiocytoid variant of this cell type have survived for as long as six years, and there are reports of spontaneous tumor remission.
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