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Home > Types of mesothelioma > Epithelioid (epithelial) mesothelioma

Epithelioid (epithelial) mesothelioma

Like all forms of this malignant disease, epithelioid mesothelioma is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos in its friable form, that is in a form where particles are thrown into the air. This usually occurs when the asbestos is processed in some way, such as by cutting or sawing.

Epithelial mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that can have a significant effect on the membrane lining the chest cavity, heart, lungs and abdominal cavity. Currently, there are three forms of epithelial mesothelioma: the most common, pleural mesothelioma; the second most common, peritoneal mesothelioma and the least common form, pericardial mesothelioma.

Most if not all epithelial mesothelioma cases are the result of asbestos exposure. Indeed, one of the most worrying aspects of this type of cancerous disease is that patients who suffer it were generally exposed many years, often decades, earlier. This naturally makes it difficult to determine when and where the disease was contracted.

The basic symptoms of epithelial mesothelioma are hard to detect. They include shortness of breath and chest pain. Because these symptoms could be caused by other factors, epithelial mesothelioma is not often detected early on. Usually when its diagnosed it is already in an advanced stage and treatment options, never good at the best of times, are extremely limited.

However, if the cancer is in an early stage, some surgery treatments can be tried. Aggressive treatments are treatments aimed at curing the asbestos lung cancer, or at least increasing the patients lifespan. In some cases an extrapleural pneumonectomy can be performed to try to stop the spread of the epithelial mesothelioma.

If the cancer is in a less advanced stage, aggressive surgery treatments can be sought. Aggressive treatments are treatments aimed at curing the mesothelioma or at least increasing the patients longevity. In some cases an extrapleural pneumonectomy can be performed to try to stop the spread of the mesothelioma.

However this operation is risky and many medical centers will not perform it because of its high mortality rate. Additionally this procedure involves removing an entire lung, as well as extensive epithelial tissue, thereby reducing the patients breathing capacity in half. Even when it is successful it rarely eliminates the mesothelioma, but rather only slows its progress.

Palliative surgery (surgery only aimed at alleviating symptoms) is an option at any stage of the disease. Usually this comes in the form of a "fine needle aspiration" or pleural tap. A pleural tap involves injecting a long needle into the chest or abdomen cavity and draining the pleural space of fluid build up. This procedure may greatly reduces symptoms associated with mesothelioma.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are other options. Both are systemic treatments and have the draw back of affecting surrounding tissues as well as cancerous tissues. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery treatments as a way of attempting to remove cancerous growth that could not be removed through surgery. Chemotherapy still has not proved very effective against epithelial mesothelioma but doctors and researcher continue to experiment with new techniques.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma and Adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinoma is a type of epithelial cancer that originates in the body's glandular tissue. Adenocarcinoma often presents itself as a benign glandular tumor (adenoma) that develops into a malignant state over time.

Mesothelioma affects a type of serous tissue called the mesothelium, the protective lining of the body's largest cavities. The mesothelium is a type of epithelium, specialized tissue that separates different "environments" in the body. For example, the skin is a type of epithelial tissue because it separates the outside environment of the body from the inside environment of the body.

Cancer of the epithelium is commonly referred to as carcinoma. The two most common types of carcinoma are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is typically found in the lung, accounting for an approximate 30 to 40% of all lung-based carcinomas. It is common for lung-based adenocarcinomas to metastasize, spreading to the epithelial tissue lining of the lungs (mesothelium of the lungs; the pleura) and thus taking on the appearance of epithelioid mesothelioma.

Epithelioid mesothelioma and adenocarcinoma are both rooted in the epithelial tissue, and as such, have a similar cellular structure. Histopathologists can often have a difficult time distinguishing between adenocarcinoma and epithelioid mesothelioma for this very reason. Chemical staining of a section of suspect tissue will often yield the correct diagnosis; however, chemical staining of epithelioid mesothelioma cells and adenocarcinoma cells sometimes elicits similar results.

Knowledge of a family history can often help aid in distinguishing between adenocarcinoma and epithelioid mesothelioma. If a patient has a family history of carcinoma, it is more likely that they suffer from a variant of the disease. If a patient has a history of asbestos exposure, it is more likely that they suffer from epithelioid mesothelioma.

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