Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the inner lining surrounding various internal organs. The exact causes for mesothelioma are still a mystery but as per studies and researches it is believed that long term exposure to asbestos may lead to the problem. The fine asbestos fibers reach the pleura (lining of the lungs), or peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) or pericardium (lining of the heart), where they affect the lining in a manner that tumors starts to develop there, rendering it malignant and turning it into cancer or mesothelioma. There are mainly three types of mesothelioma; pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.

Basically there are three categories of mesothelioma namely epithelial mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and biphasic mesothelioma. Out of these three categories epithelial mesothelioma is considered to be least aggressive than the other two categories. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is found in very rare cases. Out of 100 mesothelioma patients only 10-15 patients have sarcomatoid mesothelioma. In this type of mesothelioma the cells developing from support tissues change their shapes and turn into the shape of spindle. They multiply so fast that they grow in number and overlap each other. When the sarcomatoid mesothelioma enters into its advanced stage, the cancer starts spreading into nearby organs which makes the disease life threatening. In the case of sarcomatoid mesothelioma life expectancy after diagnosis is lesser than epithelial mesothelioma.

The symptoms of mesothelioma occur much later than the disease and they are non-specific to diagnose the disease immediately. It may take 30-40 years for the symptoms to show and even when occur initially, the same are not given serious attention. It is only when the problem persists and medicines for the symptoms don’t seem to be working, and then they are taken seriously. Chest pain, coughing, anemia, fatigue, and weight loss are some common symptoms of mesothelioma. Accumulation of fluid in abdominal cavity or spaces of other organs is responsible for the symptoms.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma can be identified through biopsy of the tissues of the affected area. Once it is determined that the patient is having sarcomatoid mesothelioma, the doctors decide the course of treatment depending upon the stage of the cancer. In most cases radiation therapy along with the removal of the tumor is suggested.

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