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Epithelioid Mesothelioma

Epithelioid cells are malignant cancer cells created from asbestos exposure. In healthy people, mesothelial and epithelial cells make up the protective tissue linings around organs like the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Asbestos fibers trigger genetic mutations in healthy epithelial cells. This turns them into epithelioid mesothelioma cells.

Epithelioid Mesothelioma Cells Explained

Epithelioid cells usually originate in the pleura, the lining that surrounds the lungs and chest. Epithelioid cells are more commonly found in cases of pleural mesothelioma than peritoneal mesothelioma and are present in 70 present of mesothelioma cases.

Doctors diagnose patients with epithelial mesothelioma when epithelioid cells appear in a patient with mesothelioma. The study of cell types (histology) helps doctors to understand the disease, its prognosis and recommend appropriate treatments.

Epithelioid mesothelioma cells respond well to treatment due to their unique features and behaviors. Treatment often includes a multimodal approach using surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate epithelioid cells.

Epithelioid Cell Features

Some particular features of epithelioid cells set them apart from the other mesothelioma cell types.

Notable traits of epithelioid cells include:

  • Elongated cells
  • Rounded, oval or egg-shaped cells
  • Visible nucleus (the center of the cell that contains its DNA)
  • Uniform and regularly arranged appearance under a microscope

These features make epithelioid cells easier to identify and study. However, epithelioid cells resemble other malignant cells typically found in the chest and abdomen. Doctors must carefully study epithelioid cells to reach the right diagnosis and prognosis.

Epithelioid Cell Behaviors

In addition to their unique features, epithelioid cells also behave in certain ways that distinguish them from other mesothelioma cell types.

These behaviors include:

  • Dividing at the slowest rate compared to other mesothelioma cell types
  • Sticking to each other as they spread
  • A lower chance of metastasis (spreading to other parts of the body)
  • Spreading to nearby lymph nodes on the side of the body that the mesothelioma is located

Epithelioid cells receive their behavioral instructions from the nucleus, which contains the DNA responsible for initiating cellular division. While all cancer cells by nature divide and spread, the rate at which cells largely determines your lifespan.

The slow rate of growth and lower likelihood of metastasis makes epithelioid cells easier to manage with treatment because they don’t grow uncontrollably unlike the other types of mesothelioma cells.

Epithelioid Cell Subtypes

Epithelioid cells are also identified by their subtypes. Doctors categorize the different subtypes by shape and size. Identifying these subtypes is important because different subtypes respond differently to treatments.

The following are the different epithelioid cell subtypes:

  • Acinar
  • Adenoid cystic
  • Adenomatoid
  • Clear cell
  • Deciduoid
  • Small cell
  • Solid mesothelial cell
  • Tubulopapillary

Certain epithelioid cell subtypes are more common than others, so they are easier to identify and diagnose. These are tubulopapillary, acinar, adenomatoid and solid mesothelial cells. The presence of different epithelioid cell subtypes may also depend on your biological sex in many cases.

Studying these subtypes carefully is very important as some of them resemble other cancerous cells. These resemblances may lead to a misdiagnosis, which is why it’s important to work with specialists who are experienced in mesothelioma histology. This will help you achieve the right diagnosis and treatments, increasing your chances of living longer.

Epithelioid Cell Treatments

The most important reason to carefully study mesothelioma cells lies in how doctors can treat you. By studying the specific types of mesothelioma cells in your body, they can prescribe treatment options that will work the best for your case. Epithelioid cells respond well to treatments when compared to other mesothelioma cell types.

Treatment options for epithelioid mesothelioma include:

  • Curative surgical procedures
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

If you’ve been diagnosed with an epithelioid cell type, then you will likely be a good candidate for aggressive treatment options provided you are in good overall health.

Surgery is particularly effective in removing epithelioid tumors because of these cells’ slow rate of growth. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) are surgical procedures aimed at removing as much of the epithelioid tumors as possible.

Doctors often perform these surgical procedures in conjunction with a chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment plan. By combining these treatments doctors can remove the tumors and additionally eliminate most of the remaining epithelioid cells.

Epithelioid Cell Survival Rates

Patients with epithelioid mesothelioma have a longer life expectancy than patients with other mesothelioma cell types. Survival times for epithelioid mesothelioma are between 12 and 24 months with more than 80 percent of patients surviving beyond the first year after diagnosis.

Epithelioid mesothelioma patients are also considered excellent candidates for receiving emerging treatments through clinical trials. Talk to your health care team about new treatment options for epithelioid mesothelioma, because they may extend your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.

Mesothelioma Support Team

Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

View 3 References
  1. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/testing-biopsy-and-cytology-specimens-for-cancer/what-doctors-look-for.html

  2. http://umm.edu/programs/cancer/services/mesothelioma/patient-and-family-education

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822975/

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