Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

The least common of the three types of cancerous mesothelioma cells are sarcomatoid cells. Patients diagnosed with epithelioid and biphasic cell types have a better chance at effective treatment options. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells are the most resistant to cancer treatment. A patient’s overall health and their stage of cancer will assist doctors in deciding what treatment options will be best.

Sarcomatoid cells can take on many various shapes and appearances. Most often, they appear spindle-shaped, elongated, and regularly form a fibrous pattern that looks like a tumor referred to as histiocytoma. Modifications of this form of cancer include transitional, lymphohistiocytoid and desmoplastic mesothelioma. Like many other types of the disease, sarcomatoid cells are connected to asbestos exposure.

Were You Diagnosed with Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

When pathologists examine samples of tissue under a microscope, it is sometimes difficult to diagnosis this particular cell type because the tumors often resemble other conditions. The extremely aggressive nature of this cell type makes prognosis less favorable than other cell types, and options for treating the cancer are modest. An early and accurate diagnosis is imperative to extending the life span of the patient, as well as increasing quality of life.

If a doctor is told that a patient has a work history involving exposure to asbestos, then imaging tests such as MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays will be ordered to determine the cell type. Doctors also will need to collect a sample of tissue from the tumor through a biopsy.

What are the Symptoms for Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

Symptoms related to this type of cancer are similar to those associated with other mesothelioma cell types. Symptoms of sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the pleura may include shortness of breath, weight loss and weakness. In sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the peritoneum, abdominal “fullness”, pain, anorexia and nausea are common symptoms. Other common symptoms include persistent cough, coughing up blood, and low oxygen levels.

What are the Treatments for Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

The stage of the cancer and its location in a patient’s body will determine the best treatment plan. The main treatment and therapy options for this cell type include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.

Sarcomatoid cells have proven to be more resistant to treatment than other types of mesothelioma. Surgery can be complex because these tumors are extremely inflexible and often metastasize to the chest wall area, rendering them especially problematic to remove. In cases of peritoneal tumors, the cancer normally surrounds the soft internal organs of the abdomen, which can make the identification and removal of the primary tumor difficult.

What is Your Prognosis with Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

The average life span for patients with sarcomatoid tumors is usually less than six months, but some patients live longer, depending on factors such as overall health and age. Patients with the lymphohistiocytoid variant of this cell type have survived for as long as six years, and there are reports of spontaneous remission of tumors. There are a limited number of clinical trials and cancer centers that are specifically designed for sarcomatoid patients. However, the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles does offer some programs that may provide more treatment and therapy options than an average traditional cancer care facility.


Other Mesothelioma Cell types: Epithelioid Mesothelioma,  Biphasic Mesothelioma