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Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest, the pleura, or abdomen, the peritoneum. Malignant mesothelioma is divided into three categories. The most common one is the epithelioid type which is about 50% to 70% of the malignant mesotheliomas. This type has the best prognosis for survival. The other categories of malignant mesothelioma are the mixed/biphasic type, which is about 20%-35% and has both epithelioid and sarcomatoid features. The last type is sarcomatoid which is 10%+15% of all malignant mesotheliomas and are similar in appearance to true sarcomas. Treatment options for all three types are the same.

If you have been working in environments where you have inhaled or swallowed asbestos particles, you should see your doctor if you have shortness of breath, swelling in your abdomen, pain in your chest. Many times mesothelioma can remain dormant in your body for up to 40 years, which is why it can be hard to know if you have developed this disease. This is why malignant mesothelioma is very hard to diagnose. Like any other cancer, it is important to see a doctor early on. If you have the symptoms, your doctor may order an x-ray of your chest or abdomen.


Median survival for patients with malignant mesothelioma is 11 months. It is almost always fatal. Median survival based on histologic type is 9.4 months for sarcomatous, 12.5 months for epithelial, and 11 months for mixed. Malignant mesothelioma is more common in men than women (ratio 3:1). Malignant mesothelioma usually develops in the ages between 50 and 70 years old and are more common in men than in women mainly because men were mostly working outdoors and in environments where they inhaled or breathed asbestos. There is no known predisposition of malignant in regards to race.



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