Malignant epithelioid mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that line the protective membranes surrounding various organs in the body. The most common site for malignant mesothelioma is the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs, but it can also occur in the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity), pericardium (lining of the heart), and the tunica vaginalis (lining of the testes).
The term “epithelioid” in malignant epithelioid mesothelioma refers to the specific cell type that characterizes this form of cancer. Epithelioid mesothelioma is one of the three primary histological subtypes of mesothelioma, with the other two being sarcomatoid and biphasic (a combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells). Epithelioid mesothelioma tends to have a somewhat better prognosis compared to the other subtypes, primarily because it is generally more responsive to treatment.
Malignant mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in various industries for its insulating and fire-resistant properties. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the mesothelial tissues, leading to chronic inflammation and the development of mesothelioma over time. Because of the long latency period between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma (often several decades), the disease is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Symptoms of malignant epithelioid mesothelioma may include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, weight loss, and fatigue. Diagnosis usually involves imaging tests, biopsies, and pathological examination of tissue samples to confirm the presence of mesothelioma cells.
Treatment options for malignant epithelioid mesothelioma may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and other individual factors. Prognosis for mesothelioma can be poor because it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and the cancer can be challenging to treat. However, advancements in treatment approaches have improved the outlook for some patients, particularly those with the epithelioid subtype. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for the best possible outcome.