Biphasic Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma can be categorized according to a number of different criteria. The first level of categorization generally has to do with where the cancer started (such as the lungs, heart, or abdomen). The next step for most doctors is to "stage" the cancer, or determine how far the disease has progressed. The third step, then, is to look more closely at the actual cancer cells.

Mesothelioma cells, the structures responsible for malignant mesothelioma, are broken down into four major categories: epithelial, sarcomatoid, biphastic, and desoplastic. Epithelial mesothelioma is characterized by highly structured cancer cells in the epithelium, while sarcomatoid mesothelioma is characterized by disordered oblong cells with no visible nuclei. Desoplastic mesothelioma is a variant of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Biphastic mesothelioma is a "mixed" category.

Of these four types, the most common is epithelial mesothelioma, which accounts for approximately 50 to 70 percent of all known cases of the disease. The other forms, including the mixed biphasic mesothelioma, are far less common. Biphasic mesothelioma, however, is the second-most common cellular form of malignant mesothelioma, accounting for 20 to 40 percent of all known mesothelioma cases.

Characteristics of Biphasic Mesothelioma

Biphasic mesothelioma does not have a specific cellular structure. Instead, it combines both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Epithelioid cells tend to be found in uniform, organized arrangements. The nuclei of the cells are clearly visible, and the careful ordering of the cells themselves is easily visible under a microscope. Sarcomatoid cells are much less organized. They tend to be more oblong in shape and do not follow a specific pattern.

Within a biphasic mesothelioma tumor, epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells tend to form in differentiated groups. The two types of cells generally do not mingle in the same areas of the tumor.

Biphasic Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Most forms of malignant mesothelioma go through the same process of diagnosis. The first step is generally an imaging test, such as an x-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, or PET scan. This test allows physicians to get a visual picture of what is happening inside the body. Physicians use these images to look for any abnormal areas and identify where cancer might be present.

After an imaging scan is complete, physicians then conduct a biopsy by removing some of the abnormal cells from the tumor or cancer-ridden area. In the first stage of the biopsy, technicians will study the cells beneath a microscope to visually look for any abnormalities. As a general rule, cancerous cells have a visibly different appearance than healthy cells. In the second stage, technicians will chemically test for the presence of any proteins associated with cancer on the exterior of the cells. This second stage of biopsy is generally when the diagnosis is confirmed.

The challenge in diagnosing biphasic mesothelioma comes from the fact that it includes both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Because these different types of cells tend to remain like with like, a single sample generally will not provide all the necessary information. To get a quality diagnosis, doctors generally take samples from different parts of the tumor to determine whether or not the mesothelioma is biphasic.

For more information about the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma and treatment options, please fill out the packet request form on on this page to receive a complimentary packet overnight.

Biphasic Mesothelioma Treatment Options

All forms of mesothelioma - no matter what their stage, location, or cell type - are generally subject to three potential treatment options: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In most cases, the treatment option recommended by your doctor will depend on the location and stage of your cancer - not on the specific type of cells in the tumors.

There is, however, a difference in how different types of cells respond to cancer treatment. Biphasic mesothelioma unfortunately tends to be more resistant to treatment than other forms of the disease. This leads to a poor overall prognosis for patients, with the average estimated survival time lasting about six months after diagnosis. For this reason, biphasic mesothelioma patients often receive especially aggressive treatments to combat the cancer in the best way possible.

Patients with advanced cancer and an especially poor prognosis may benefit from palliative treatments, which seek to manage symptoms and improve quality of life rather than cure the disease.

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