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Home > Types of mesothelioma > Sarcomatoid mesothelioma

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma

As rare as sarcomatoid mesothelioma is, it can often be confused with a variety of other types of cancers because of the commonality of the sarcomatoid appearance. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed as a type of sarcomatoid carcinoma. A carcinoma is any type of cancer arising from the epithelial cells of the body.

Patients suffering from sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung often present similar symptoms to patients suffering from sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the pleura: chest pain, fluid buildups within the pleural space (pleural effusions) and respiratory difficulties. Although sarcomatoid cancers can appear throughout the body, they are seldom found in the lungs; as few as 1.3% of all lung carcinomas are of the sarcomatoid variety. When lung sarcomatoid carcinomas do occur, they are four times as likely to occur in men as women. Smokers also face increased risk of developing a sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma and Sarcoma

Sarcoma is another type of cancer that is often mistakenly diagnosed for people suffering from sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Simply stated, a sarcoma is a type of cancer of the bone, fat, muscle, cartilage or blood vessels (connective or supportive tissue). Although bone tumors are also referred to as a type of sarcoma, they have different characteristics to the connective/supportive tissue sarcomas and are therefore placed in a separate category and treated in a different manner.

When sarcoma cancer arises from the pleural tissue, it can be difficult to differentiate from a sarcomatoid mesothelioma of the pleura. The appearance of sarcoma cancer cells can be similar to sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells when viewed under high magnification.

Typically, a diagnostic technique called 'staining' (histochemistry) is used to aid in differentiating one cancer from the other; however, staining of the tumor cells often provides similar results, adding to the overall confusion. In such cases, a histopathologist must carefully compare both the appearance and the staining of the cells in order to distinguish between a case of sarcomatoid mesothelioma and sarcoma.

Diagnosis of Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is diagnosed by a histopathologist using a high powered microscope after removal of suspect tissue through surgical biopsy. A biopsy is an extremely common type of diagnostic surgery that is required for the purpose of definitively diagnosing a disease.

Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma, Sarcomatoid Carcinoma and Sarcoma

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is also confused with high-grade sarcoma, a form of cancer found in supportive tissue such as bone, cartilage, fat or muscle. (Carcinoma forms in the epithelium). If the sarcoma becomes involved with the pleural surface it can be difficult to differentiate from sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

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