Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer caused by long-term exposure to asbestos and in some cases, other fibrous carcinogens. Although until recently considered a rare diagnosis, mesothelioma cases are on the rise.

This is theorized to be due to the lengthy latency period that malignant mesothelioma has—the time between carcinogen exposure and diagnosis—leading people to think their health is in top form until they experience their first symptoms some decades after their last exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma often develops as an industrial disease due to vocational asbestos exposure, but more and more cases are arising involving environmental exposure, as well.

What is biphasic mesothelioma?

Biphasic mesothelioma gets its name from the two cellular subtypes that make up the cancer cells of the mesothelioma tumor: epithelial cells and sarcomatoid cells. Though not as responsive to treatment as epithelial mesothelioma, biphasic mesothelioma is more easily treated than sarcomatoid mesothelioma, which shows poor results when treated by traditional means.

How is it diagnosed?

Biphasic mesothelioma is diagnosed via a cellular biopsy and imaging procedure called immunohistochemistry, where the tumor cells are injected with contrast dye in order to help the diagnosing physician better see the individual differentiating characteristics of the tumor cells. When both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells are determined to be present in the same tumor, a biphasic mesothelioma diagnosis can be made.

What treatment options are available?

Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments are the most popular options for treating biphasic mesothelioma. A resectable tumor may be removed via surgery, then follow-up treatments of radiation or chemotherapy may be ordered in order to eradicate any cancer cells that were missed during the surgical tumor extraction. Combined therapies are gaining popularity, such as intraoperative chemotherapy or radiation treatment, where chemo drugs or beams of radiation are directed right at the tumor site during an operation.

Every case is unique

No two mesothelioma victims share the same story, nor are any two mesothelioma tumors the same. Although every mesothelioma victim has one thing in common, each case is unique and must be evaluated and treated as such. Your cancer care team can help you to determine the treatment options that are the best fit for your individual case.