Mesothelioma is a progressive form of cancer that can affect many different areas of the body. The survival rate for patients who are suffering from mesothelioma largely depends on the location and the type of cancer cell. Unfortunately, sarcomatoid cells are the most aggressive and the most difficult to detect, forcing patients with this type of cancer to undergo expensive specialized treatments.
What Causes Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?
Sarcomatoid cells are most commonly found in patients with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, although they may affect some patients with kidney, lung, bladder, or liver cancers. In most cases, the cancer is caused by past exposure to asbestos fibers. It is not unusual for people who used to work in industries such as oil, gas, mining, manufacturing, construction, and maritime occupations to suffer cancer caused by asbestos decades after they were first exposed.
If someone close to you worked near asbestos, it is possible for you and your family members to have suffered secondary exposure. There have been many cases where employees have carried asbestos fibers home on their shoes, skin, and work clothes, shedding these fibers throughout their homes. These tiny particles are inhaled by everyone in the household day after day, building up in the lungs and eventually causing cell damage that results in mesothelioma.
Sarcomatoid Cells Pose a Complex Threat to Patients
Patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma may not respond as well to treatment as those with other forms of mesothelioma, resulting in a shorter life expectancy and less favorable prognosis. However, some patients live for several years after the sarcomatoid mesothelioma diagnosis, especially if they are generally healthy and have specialized treatment available.
The diagnosis and medical care for patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma are complicated by:
- Cell behavior. Although sarcomatoid cells are the least common cell type of mesothelioma, they are more resistant to common cancer treatment methods. The spindle-shaped cells are harder to distinguish from normal healthy tissue under a microscope, allowing them to avoid detection. They also spread to other areas of the body (metastasize) more quickly than other cancer cells, making it likely for a patient to suffer tumors in multiple locations.
- Tumor stage. A patient who is diagnosed in the early stages of sarcomatoid mesothelioma has a much better chance of responding to treatment. However, it is rare for a patient to have a single sarcomatoid tumor mass in the chest wall. Pleural sarcomatoid cells typically begin as a series of small tumors, eventually forming a thin tumor wall across the lining of the lungs. Because of the way the cancer cells grow, they may evade diagnosis for years, moving into later stages undetected.
- Misdiagnosis. Doctors often misdiagnose pleural mesothelioma as lesser respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis or asthma. Patients can suffer shortness of breath or chest pain for years until sarcomatoid cells are positively identified.
Treatment Options for Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma
Patients who receive specialty care for asbestos-related cancers may be able to increase life expectancy and treatment response rates. Unfortunately, patients may have to travel hundreds of miles to a cancer center that specializes in mesothelioma, and it may take a combination of many costly forms of treatment to stop the spread of sarcomatoid cells.
Treatment for sarcomatoid mesothelioma may include:
- Surgery. While some sarcomatoid tumors may be treated with surgery, this type of cancer is difficult to remove because of the way the tumor is embedded in the chest wall.
- Radiation. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery to shrink tumors and prevent cancer from spreading.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy offers limited success in treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma, but there are new chemotherapy medicines in development that may be more effective. A potent mesothelioma drug called sodium selenite has proven effective in laboratory studies but has not yet been approved for human use.
- Complementary or alternative treatments. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, exercise courses, pain counseling, dietary changes, and meditation may be helpful in treating stress and improving quality of life.
- Clinical trials. Participating in a clinical trial offers a way for patients to access experimental therapies that have not yet been approved by the FDA.
If you have been diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma, there are many different ways you could receive compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. The proceeds you receive from a mesothelioma claim can help you travel to other hospitals for medical care, while a filing a Social Security disability claim for compassionate allowance can give you expedited access to benefits.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault represent mesothelioma victims throughout the state of Louisiana. We know how difficult and devastating this time can be for our clients, and we are focused on getting you everything you and your family need to get the best care possible. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don't charge for our services until after your claim is settled. Our fee is based upon a percentage of your settlement, so there are no upfront costs required for you to get the legal help you need.