Biphasic mesothelioma accounts for about 20% to 35% of all cases diagnosed and reported. While it most often originates in the lung lining (pleura), it has also been found in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), in the lining of the heart (pericardium) and, to a far lesser extent, the lining of the testicles.
The cancerous tissue in biphasic mesothelioma is made up of both sarcomatoid and epithelioid cells, each making up at least 10% of a tutor (according to World Health Organization classification). That’s why this type may also be informally called “mixed”. However, how many of each type of cell present varies from patient to patient. Generally speaking, if there are more epithelioid cells than sarcomatoid, the patient will have a better survival rate. This is because even though epithelioid cells cause tumors to grow faster, sarcomatoid cells are more aggressive and the cancer is more likely to spread to other tissues in the body, making the disease more fatal.
Biphasic mesothelioma risk factors
- Asbestos exposure
- Age (the older you are, the higher you are at risk)
- Gender (it is more common in males)
Diagnosing biphasic mesothelioma
Imaging scans, such as x-rays and CT scans, pathology, immunohistochemistry and a physical examination are used in the diagnostic process. Sometimes, a biopsy may obtain a sample that is made up predominately of one type of cell. This can occur because there is no standard way the cells are organized. They may be mixed together, or there may be concentrations of one type of cell in a single area of affected tissue, resulting in a misdiagnosis of the cellular type of mesothelioma a patient has. Therefore, it is important that more extensive sampling is performed that involves samples taken from different areas to ensure a proper diagnosis.
It is uncommon for a patient to be diagnosed with stage 1 mesothelioma. However, if this happens, their life expectancy is far better than being diagnosed at a later stage.
Treatment options are similar to those available for other types of mesothelioma: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Clinical trials and experimental treatments may also be available. It is important to note that surgery is sometimes not an option if the patient’s condition makes it too dangerous to perform.
Better than sarcomatoid mesothelioma survival rate
Once diagnosed, some doctors believe that patients have an average lifespan of about six months1. However, another 2008 report compiled by the UK government states that this could be about seven months, with a 29% at one year, and 3% survival rate at three years2.