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What is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the least common form of mesothelioma. The type of mesothelioma that a person has is often referred to as the “cell type” or “histological type.” It is estimated that up to 20% of mesotheliomas are of the sarcomatoid type. In comparison, more than 50% of mesotheliomas are of the epitheloid or epithelial type. There is a third type of mesothelioma, known as biphasic mesothelioma, which shares characteristics of both epithelial and sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

How is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Different?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is different from the other types of the cancer in a number of ways:

  • It is more common in men;
  • It almost always arises in the pleura (lining of the lung), with a very small percentage of cases arising in the peritoneum (abdominal cavity);
  • Diagnosis based on pathology alone can be difficult;
  • The prognosis is worse than other types of mesothelioma;
  • Asbestos exposures are often more readily identifiable (e.g., U.S. Navy).
  • More often seen with markers of asbestos exposure (e.g., pleural plaques, asbestosis).

How is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Diagnosis Made?

Similar to the other types of mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma diagnosis is made when a surgical procedure, known as a biopsy, is used to remove tissue from the tumor. A pathologist then applies special stains, known as immunohistochemical stains, to the tissue to differentiate sarcomatoid mesothelioma from other diseases. The stains used to diagnose sarcomatoid mesothelioma include CAM5.2, AE1/AE and WT1.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is often more difficult to diagnose as compared to the other types of mesothelioma. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma, which almost always occurs in the pleura, is often confused with other diseases, such as sarcomatoid carcinoma, sarcomas, chronic fibrous pleuritis and other tumors of the chest wall, lung, and pleura. This means that patients often experience more delay in obtaining a sarcomatoid mesothelioma diagnosis, resulting in the loss of valuable time.

It is recommended that in addition to the pathology findings, doctors also consider the patient’s clinical history, asbestos exposure history, and radiological findings in order to make an accurate diagnosis of sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

What is the Prognosis for Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most aggressive type of mesothelioma with the worst prognosis. The median survival for sarcomatoid mesothelioma is less than one year, according to most studies. By contrast, epithelial mesothelioma tends to be less aggressive with many patients surviving for several years or more. Biphasic mesothelioma varies with some showing the aggressiveness of the sarcomatoid type and with others behaving more like the epithelial type.

It is important to determine the type of mesothelioma a patient has before deciding on a course of treatment. A treatment or surgery that may be appropriate for epithelial mesothelioma may not be inappropriate or less effective for sarcomatoid mesothelioma. For instance, some surgeons will not perform extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery on patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma due to the poor prognosis associated with this cell type.

What is the relationship between Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure?

Although all forms of malignant mesothelioma are known to be caused by asbestos exposure, the link between sarcomatoid mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is particularly striking. An asbestos exposure history can be identified in almost all cases of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Pleural plaques indicative of asbestos exposure are identifiable in a larger percentage of sarcomatoid mesothelioma cases as compared to the other mesothelioma cell types. Similarly, asbestosis, indicative of a relative heavier asbestos exposure, is identifiable in a higher percentage of sarcomatoid mesothelioma cases as compared to the other cell types. Sarcomatoid mesotheliomas are commonly seen in men, many of whom were heavily exposed to asbestos. For example, asbestos exposures from the following jobs have been known to result in sarcomatoid mesothelioma:

  • U.S. Navy;
  • Powerhouse worker;
  • Mechanic;
  • Painter;
  • Drywaller;
  • Construction worker;
  • Floor or ceiling work;
  • Insulator;
  • Millwright;
  • Engineer.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Studies

Studies on sarcomatoid mesothelioma include:

  • Sarcomatoid mesothelioma: a clinical pathologic correlation of 326 cases, Modern Pathology (2010) 23, 470-479;
  • Differential diagnosis of sarcomatoid mesothelioma from true sarcoma and sarcomatoid carcinoma using immunohistochemistry, Pathology International (2008), 58: 75-83;
  • The immunohistochemical characterization of sarcomatoid malignant mesothelioma of the pleura, Am J Cancer Res. 2011 1(1): 14-24.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma and Legal Rights

Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of sarcomatoid mesothelioma should definitely contact a lawyer to find out about their legal rights. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is highly associated with asbestos exposure, which can often be identified through the patient’s work history. A patient with sarcomatoid mesothelioma may have more readily identifiable asbestos exposures as compared to a person with epithelial mesothelioma who may have less obvious exposures to asbestos.

It is important that patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma act very quickly in contacting a lawyer for two reasons:

  1. Because the prognosis in cases of sarcomatoid mesothelioma is typically poor, there is less time for the patient to act and provide important information to the attorneys to maximize the amount of compensation;
  2. There are strict time limits, known as statute of limitations, that only give a person a limited amount of time to file asbestos-related claims. It is important that a patient with sarcomatoid mesothelioma contact an experienced attorney that is willing and able to act quickly and effectively in filing and pursuing legal claims.

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma, contact us and we will send you the latest medical information about sarcomatoid mesothelioma and direct you to nearby specialists in the area of sarcomatoid mesothelioma. We will also give you information about your legal rights because there is only one known cause of sarcomatoid mesothelioma: exposure to asbestos.

You can contact us via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

ATTENTION: Mesothelioma has no known cure and often causes severe pain, suffering, and other types of damage, such as loss of consortium, and loss of income. Additionally, due to the exceedingly high cost of mesothelioma treatments, many families exhaust savings and accumulate financial debt in order to pay for the medical expenses of their family member.

Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.

Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.

IMPORTANT: If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer as early as possible to determine if you have a mesothelioma case and to:

  • Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
  • Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
    • Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
    • File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
  • Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.

Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

NOTE: While our offices are located in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Georgia, many of our mesothelioma lawyers are licensed to practice law in a number of U.S. states and have the capability and extensive experience of representing mesothelioma clients throughout the United States. You are encouraged to contact us with any questions.



Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

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