Mesothelioma is one of the deadliest cancers for a number of reasons. It has a prolonged latency period during which it destroys the mucous-producing membrane that lines the outer surface of a number of organs. This membrane allows the organs to move, which in turn allows them to function. Over a period of decades mesothelioma destroys healthy cells by assaulting them with three main avenues of attack: epithelioid, sarcomatoid, biphasic cells.
Epithelioid mesothelioma cells are the most common and relatively easiest to treat of all types of mesothelioma. This type of cell appears to be a papillary or tubular growth that usually affects the outer membranes and linings of the internal organs and other bodily surfaces. Somewhere between 50 and 70% of all mesothelioma cases belong to this category, and although this cancer is usually extremely difficult to treat, epithelioid mesothelioma is the most likely to respond to treatment.
The second type of mesothelioma is sarcomatoid mesothelioma. This type is the most serious form of the disease, as it is the least likely to respond to treatment. These spindle-shaped pattern of cells that appear to overlap each other are also fortunately the rarest type of the cancer, with approximately 10-20% of all mesothelioma cases falling into this type. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is so dangerous because it attacks and arises from the support tissues of the body, such as bone, cartilage, fat, and muscle, and cancers in these areas are notoriously difficult and painful to treat. Patients with this form of cancer rarely live longer than six months after diagnosis.
The final condition, biphasic mesothelioma, is not an independent type of mesothelioma, but a combination of sarcomatoid and epithelioid. It is also a mixed bag of conditions in that it can take the good and bad aspects of the other two types, and almost 20-35% of all mesothelioma cases fall into either mixed or biphasic areas.
Without a doubt, mesothelioma is one of the most devastating types of cancer. Most people rarely live beyond a year after their initial diagnosis, and few victims reach five years. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure, and millions of people have had contact with this deadly substance.
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