Sarcomatoid is a type of mesothelioma tumor cell. This cell type is the least common and most aggressive mesothelioma cell type, leading to the poorest disease outlook and fewer effective treatment options. However, doctors hope new treatment options will prove more effective against sarcomatoid mesothelioma.
What Is Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma?
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma describes a type of malignant mesothelioma tumor that is made up of the sarcomatoid cells.
Malignant mesothelioma tumors may have one of the following cell types:
- Sarcomatoid: The least common mesothelioma cell type is sarcomatoid. It is also the most difficult to treat.
- Epithelial: The most common and treatable cell type of mesothelioma is epithelial (also called epithelioid).
- Biphasic: A mixture of the two cell types, biphasic mesothelioma’s rarity falls somewhere between sarcomatoid and epithelial.
Like the other mesothelioma cells, the only known cause of sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells developing is from asbestos exposure.
Sarcomatoid cells are shaped like a spindle, similar to a long cylinder. Instead of remaining in place, sarcomatoid cells tend to move around the body easily and quickly, leading to earlier distant metastases.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer to distant parts of the body. Once the spread occurs, mesothelioma becomes harder to treat.
In addition to spreading easily, sarcomatoid cells look like other tissue cells, often leading to a misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis allows the aggressive sarcomatoid mesothelioma to advance rapidly before a correct diagnosis can be confirmed and doctors can treat the cancer.
Quick Facts About Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma
- According to the American Cancer Society, about 10%-20% of mesothelioma cases are sarcomatoid. They are usually pleural.
- An American Journal of Surgical Pathology study found that the median age of diagnosis for sarcomatoid peritoneal mesothelioma was 66.
- According to the same study, the average patient lifespan from the time of diagnosis was only 5 months.
Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Cell Symptoms
There are several different symptoms that people experience from sarcomatoid mesothelioma. These mesothelioma symptoms usually take between 20 and 50 years to develop.
Did You Know? You can have this type of cancer for many years before exhibiting any symptoms.
Most people who fall victim to mesothelioma are in their 60s or older.
Different symptoms can be felt depending on where the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells are located. If the patient is diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, it will impact the lungs and chest wall.
More rarely, mesothelioma will form in the abdominal lining, calling for a diagnosis of sarcomatoid peritoneal mesothelioma.
Early major symptoms that patients may experience include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Because these symptoms are common to many diseases and illnesses, many patients do not get diagnosed right away based on these symptoms alone.
Other, more specific symptoms may develop over time.
Other symptoms may include:
- Blood in feces or vomit
- Bloody sputum (saliva/mucus mixture)
- Coughing up blood
- Decreased appetite
- Pain in the shoulders
- Rib pain
- Severe coughing
- Weight loss
- Vomiting blood
- Upper back pain
Most symptoms of sarcomatoid mesothelioma are the same as other types of mesotheliomas. Shortness of breath is reported in all cases of mesothelioma.
However, nausea and vomiting seem to be particular to those with sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells.
It can be difficult to make a mesothelioma diagnosis. Sarcomatoid cells take decades to become evident after initial contact with asbestos.
Early detection is difficult because the patient is typically asymptomatic (has no symptoms), or presenting symptoms that are the same as other more common illnesses.
Most patients begin the process of diagnosis when they go to the doctor for shortness of breath or chest pain.
If exposure to asbestos fibers is suspected, doctors may order tests, or they can order tests to exclude other diagnoses than mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma diagnostic tests may include:
- Chest X-rays
- Computed tomography scans (CT scans)
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Blood tests
Biopsies can also be taken from different parts of the body to look at different cells and their makeup.
Did You Know? Sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells primarily diagnosed by a tissue biopsy.
Mesothelioma pathologists (doctors specializing in diagnosing mesothelioma through biopsies) may use immunohistochemistry or other biopsy examination techniques to find antibodies unique to the sarcomatoid cell type.
Sometimes mesothelioma is misdiagnosed as something else.
It is commonly misdiagnosed because mesothelioma may present with non-specific symptoms or findings.
Some common misdiagnoses include:
- Fibrous pleurisy
- Fibrous tumors
- Metastasized renal sarcoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Pleural liposarcoma
- Sarcomatoid carcinoma
- Soft tissue sarcomas
A mesothelioma misdiagnosis is very dangerous because it prevents patients from getting the right treatments to extend their lives.
The prognosis (disease outlook) for patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma is not as good as it is for mesothelioma patients with other cell types.
A mesothelioma prognosis may vary depending on the general age, gender, and health of the patient.
It also depends on the stage of mesothelioma when diagnosed. A patient who is diagnosed early will have better treatment options and results than a patient diagnosed in the latter stages of the disease.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Mesothelioma patients with sarcomatoid cells show a life expectancy of 1-28 months. The median life expectancy is around 6 months.
The prognosis for this type is so poor because the cells quickly travel and spread to other parts of the body.
There are also very few treatment options, meaning a patient can do little to extend their median survival.
Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma Treatment
Patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells have one of the most difficult types of mesothelioma to treat.The cells are resistant to many mesothelioma treatments, and they spread quickly throughout the body, making removal through surgery nearly impossible.However, there are still several treatment options open to patients.
The type of treatment doctors choose depends largely on the stage and location of the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells, as well as the overall health of the patient.
Some patients may be able to withstand a more aggressive treatment than others.
Chemotherapy is often the first choice for treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells. It is fast-acting and can be effective in slowing or stopping progression during treatment.
Chemotherapy is used because it can treat the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells throughout the entire body.
Radiation therapy for mesothelioma is also used in some patients. It is often used as a palliative (symptom-reducing) treatment to shrink the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells.
It is not very effective at slowing or stopping cell growth or movement. However, it can be helpful in improving symptoms and making the patient more comfortable, leading to a higher quality of life.
Surgery is used to treat mesothelioma in patients that present with the disease in just a few places within the body.
It is not typically a very effective treatment, however, because sarcomatoid cells spread quickly throughout the body. It is difficult to remove all of the spindle cells through surgery.
However, if diagnosis happens early and the cells have not spread throughout the body, surgery may be a viable option. Surgery options for eligible patients with pleural sarcomatoid mesothelioma include extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy with decortication.
Studies of new treatments for sarcomatoid mesothelioma are currently being done, often focusing on immunotherapy. As of 2023, there are over 50 clinical trials for mesothelioma being conducted in the United States.
Other treatment options for mesothelioma may include:
- Viral introduction therapies
- Cancer vaccines
- Antibody therapies
Doctors will be able to determine the right treatment or clinical trials for patients, depending on the stage and location of the malignant mesothelioma.
Patients should also speak with an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about paying for treatments.
Hope for Victims of Mesothelioma
A mesothelioma diagnosis affects more than just your health. It can touch just about every area of your life.
However, new treatments and clinical trials may give hope to sarcomatoid mesothelioma victims and their loved ones.
Mesothelioma Claims Center has helped hundreds with mesothelioma find top doctors, get information on treatment options, and more. 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.)