Epithelioid Mesothelioma Cells

Epithelioid is the most common mesothelioma cell type, accounting for roughly 70% of all cases. Epithelial cells grow at a relatively slow rate, causing them to respond favorably to treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. For this reason, mesothelioma with epithelioid cells has the best prognosis and survival rate of all cell types, with patients often surviving 1-2 years after their diagnosis.

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What Is Epithelioid Mesothelioma?

Epithelioid (or epithelial) is one of the three cell types of the rare cancer malignant mesothelioma. The other two mesothelioma cell types are sarcomatoid and biphasic.

Healthy epithelial cells typically develop from a type of tissue that forms as wounds heal, called granuloma. When these cells are exposed to asbestos fibers, however, they can mutate and form tumors.

Malignant epithelioid mesothelioma cancer generally responds well to treatment. Patients with this cell type tend to live longer than patients with biphasic or sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells, provided that doctors can diagnose their cancer before it spreads.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms of Epithelioid Pleural Mesothelioma Cells

  • Chest Pain
  • Fatique
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid buildup in the chest (pleural effusions)

Symptoms of Epithelioid Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cells

  • Abdominal pain
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)

Epithelioid mesothelioma cells are usually accompanied by mild and vague symptoms at first. Many times, the cancer is commonly mistaken for other health problems with similar symptoms, such as pneumonia or asthma.

“In many cases, a persistent cough is the first symptom that prompts a visit with a physician.”

– Moffitt Cancer Center


Mesothelioma symptoms become more obvious and severe as the cancer spreads. The earlier a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the better chances to treat the disease.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Doctors follow a multi-step process to diagnose mesothelioma after a patient reports symptoms.

1. Physical Examination

Doctors will first perform a physical examination to help determine the cause of the symptoms.

If the patient has a history of asbestos exposure, or if the doctor suspects mesothelioma for any other reason, they will look for specific signs of this cancer. One common indicator of mesothelioma is fluid buildup in the lung lining (pleural effusions).

2. Imaging Tests

If physical examination suggests signs of disease, doctors will use imaging tests to look for tumors, scar tissue, or other telltale signs of mesothelioma. Imaging tests may include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, or computed tomography scans (CT scans).

One of the most critical benefits of imaging tests is that they can provide information on whether there are tumors present as well as the potential location of the mesothelioma.

3. Biopsy

Imaging tests can not conclusively diagnose mesothelioma, so if radiologists or doctors see visible cancer signs, they will request a biopsy.

The only way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis is through a biopsy, in which a piece of a tumor is removed or fluid is collected. The pathologist takes a tissue or fluid sample of the affected area and examines it under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present.

Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor can determine if the malignant cells belong to an epithelioid cell subtype.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma Using Biomarkers

Specialists will also look for biomarkers, which help them to distinguish mesothelioma cells from cells of other, similar illnesses and avoid misdiagnosis. This technique is called immunohistochemistry staining.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the diagnostic process for epithelioid mesothelioma should include immunohistochemistry staining. This allows doctors to look for certain proteins (such as calretinin) and other signs of mesothelioma cancer.

Mesothelioma Prognosis

Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma cells typically have a life expectancy of 1-2 years following their diagnosis.

Epithelioid mesothelioma cells generally have a better prognosis (expected outcome of a disease) than the other two cell subtypes — largely because epithelial cells spread fairly slowly. The table below details epithelioid patient survival compared to the other mesothelioma cell types.

Median Survival Rate by Mesothelioma Cell Type

  • Epithelioid – 18 months
  • Sarcomatoid – 10 months
  • Biphasic – 7 months

In addition to cell type, other factors — including a patient’s age, cancer stage, and mesothelioma type — also affect a prognosis. Mesothelioma specialists take these factors into account when telling a patient their prognosis and prescribing available treatments.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Treatment

Like all forms of this cancer, epithelioid mesothelioma is usually treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation (multimodal treatment). Epithelial cells are more responsive to these mesothelioma treatments than the other cell types.


Removing tumors through surgery is the most effective way to treat epithelioid mesothelioma because it slows the spread of cancerous epithelial cells.

Patients with the epithelioid cell type are more likely to qualify for mesothelioma surgery when compared to patients with sarcomatoid cells or biphasic tumors, according to a 2012 study.

The most common surgeries for patients with epithelioid pleural mesothelioma are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy with decortication (P/D). Patients with epithelioid peritoneal mesothelioma may qualify for cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC.


Chemotherapy is administered intravenously to stop cancer cells from spreading. Patients will typically need multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

Common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include pemetrexed, cisplatin, carboplatin, and gemcitabine.


Radiation therapy is administered by a machine that delivers high-energy wavelengths to the tumor site, which causes the epithelioid mesothelioma cells to die and the tumors to shrink.

Radiation may be used to supplement a surgery or as a main course of treatment if surgery is not an option.

Improving Prognosis With Treatment

Research has shown that multimodal treatment can improve the long-term survival rates of mesothelioma patients.

Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma may access promising new treatment options through clinical trials, which test emerging treatments to hopefully improve survival rates and find a cure.

Hope for Victims of Epithelioid Mesothelioma

Epithelioid mesothelioma patients may find hope in knowing that this cell type typically responds well to treatments. That said, if you have been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may still have questions or concerns.

You may be wondering how to provide for your family while you seek medical treatment — but, thankfully, there are support options available.

Learn how we can help you navigate life after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Download our free mesothelioma guide today.

Easier Than It May Seem

Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a mesothelioma claim?

A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?

An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.

How do I file a mesothelioma claim?

To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.

What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?

The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.

How long do mesothelioma claims take?

Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.

Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.

What is the average payout for mesothelioma?

There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.

How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?

Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.

What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?

Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:

  • Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
  • Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
  • Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
    A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)

Contact us to learn more.

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