Epithelioid Mesothelioma

What is Epithelioid Mesothelioma?

The types of cells within a patient’s tumor have a significant impact on prognosis. A total of 50 to 70 percent of mesothelioma patients have malignant epithelioid mesothelioma. Of the different types of cancerous cells, epithelial cells respond best to treatment. Understanding the cell characteristics and the methods used to diagnose this type of cancer can help patients and doctors decide together the best treatment plan.

A majority of mesothelioma patients have epithelial mesothelioma, so medical researchers have spent a considerable amount of time studying varying treatments that can help eliminate the cancer cells. Knowing if you have a specific cell type will help doctors determine if clinical trials are being offered to help with treatment.

What Are the Characteristics of Epithelioid Mesothelioma?

In order to classify cancer cells, doctors will review the cells’ appearance to determine the type of cells involved. The most common of the four major tissue types in humans is known as epithelial tissue. This tissue makes up the epithelium, which covers the internal and external surfaces of a person’s body. The lining of several major body cavities and most of patient’s organs can be affected by epithelial cancer. Epithelial cells are also present in our skin, eyes, taste buds and ears.

The function and location determine the varying structure of epithelial tissue. When these cells become cancerous, they may take on several visual patterns, including tall and column-like, thin and flat, or hexagon-shaped. The abnormal appearance or the formations of small tubes or clusters help doctors discover the cells. If and when epithelial cells become cancerous, they are referred to as epithelioid cells. Epithelioid cells occur more regularly in cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma rather than peritoneal mesothelioma.

Since epithelial cells stick closely together and lack mobility, they are less likely to extend to remote locations, which happens with sarcomatoid cells. Cancerous epithelial cells mainly spread to nearby lymph nodes and transfer from there via the lymphatic system. On the other hand, sarcomatoid cells are loosely organized, and they can travel without difficulty, leading to faster metastasis.

How is Epithelioid Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Epithelial cancer cells cannot be identified with diagnostic imaging scans. For doctors to decide which cell type is present, a thoracoscopy or comparable type of surgical biopsy needs to be performed. Biopsies offer doctors a way to examine potentially cancerous cells under a high-powered microscope. During a biopsy, a tissue sample from the tumor is removed for further evaluation to determine the cells it contains.

Diagnosing epithelioid mesothelioma has its challenges. One challenge is distinguishing it from other types of cancer. Epithelial tumors often are confused with adenocarcinoma, a common type of cancer that develops in the colon, breasts and lungs. Glandular mesothelioma, an epithelial cell subtype, may be similar to adenocarcinoma of the lungs. It may be difficult to tell these two conditions apart.

How Does Epithelioid Mesothelioma Affect Treatment?

Epithelioid cells react greater to treatment than the other types of cancerous cells. A patient with this type may be considered for a more aggressive mesothelioma treatment plan. Epithelial mesothelioma patients who are diagnosed before the cancer has multiplied throughout the chest area often qualify for multimodal therapy, which attempts to kill cancer cells with multiple therapies. Overall, epithelioid mesothelioma is connected with better response to treatment, providing patients an extended survival rate.

Other Mesothelioma Cell types:  Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma, Biphasic Mesothelioma