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When someone is diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma, it means that the mesothelioma tumor is made up of sarcomatoid cells. Mesothelioma tumors can include sarcomatoid cells (the rarest cell type), epithelial cells (the most common cell type) or a mix of both (referred to as “biphasic mesothelioma”). Sarcomatoid cells are shaped like spindles, while epithelial cells are rectangular. The spindle shape makes it difficult for sarcomatoid cells to stick together, so they’re more likely to break off from the tumor and spread to other areas of the body, leading to metastasis.

What causes sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

As with other types of mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become embedded in organ linings, where they can cause normal cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Most cases of sarcomatoid mesothelioma are pleural, meaning that they develop in the lining of the lungs. In some cases, sarcomatoid mesothelioma may also develop in the stomach cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma).

What are the symptoms of sarcomatoid mesothelioma?

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma symptoms can take a long time to develop—often 10 to 50 years. Early symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain. Over time, more severe symptoms can develop, such as:

  • More persistent coughing and shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite and a feeling of fullness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

How is sarcomatoid mesothelioma treated?

Because sarcomatoid mesothelioma is such an aggressive form of cancer, it can be challenging to treat. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. Surgery, while also an option, tends to be less widely used because this type of cancer spreads so quickly and thus is harder to surgically remove. Physicians generally base their treatment recommendations on where the sarcomatoid mesothelioma is located and how far the cancer has progressed.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we diagnose and treat all types of mesothelioma, including sarcomatoid mesothelioma. The multispecialty team in our Thoracic Oncology Program includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, pathologists and thoracic surgeons. We’ll evaluate your condition and offer an individualized treatment plan to provide you with the best possible outcome and quality of life. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online.