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Characteristics of Small Cell Mesothelioma

Small cell mesothelioma is a subtype of the more commonly known epithelial cell type. Unlike the straightforward presentation of other types of mesothelioma, tumors that display small cell features often exhibit a biphasic nature. This means that these tumors present a combination of both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. Interestingly, while the growth pattern of this mesothelioma type resembles that of small cell carcinoma, the tumors distinctively lack the stream, ribbon, or rosette patterns typically observed in subtypes of lung carcinoma.

Anatomy and Composition of Small Cell Tumors

The growth of small cell mesothelioma tumors primarily occurs in the peritoneum, which is the abdominal lining. However, these tumors can also be found in the pleura (lining of the lungs) or the pericardium (heart sac). Contrary to what their name suggests, these tumors are not composed solely of small cells. A typical tumor of this kind may also include normal mesothelioma cells along with a variety of other neoplastic cells. To be categorized as a small cell tumor, approximately half or more of the cells within the tumor should exhibit the characteristic small cell pattern.

Challenges in Diagnosing Small Cell Mesothelioma

Diagnosing small cell mesothelioma poses a significant challenge for medical professionals due to its resemblance to other small cell neoplasms. Conditions that small cell mesothelioma can be mistaken for include small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT), peripheral neuroectodermal tumor (PNET), and lymphoma. Such diagnostic challenges are exemplified by studies where biopsies showed small cells comprising 80% to 100% of the sample. Yet, in the broader context of the tumor, they constituted only 15% to 20%. This discrepancy highlights the importance of obtaining multiple samples to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Furthermore, while the cells of small cell mesothelioma and small cell carcinoma might appear similar under a microscope, their reactions to specific chemical markers differ. Therefore, accurate diagnosis is essential, especially since distinct cancers require different treatment approaches.

Treatment Approaches and Prognosis

Crafting a standardized treatment for small cell mesothelioma is a challenging endeavor due to the rarity of reported cases. As a result, medical professionals often resort to treatments designed for standard mesotheliomas. Although small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is recognized for its aggressive nature compared to other lung cancers, it remains uncertain if small cell mesothelioma’s prognosis differs from other epithelial mesotheliomas. However, a 2020 study suggested that despite its morphological similarity to SCLC, small cell mesothelioma presents a different immunohistochemical profile, concluding that this rare cancer variant typically has a grim prognosis with an average survival duration of around eight months. Here at the Halpern Law Firm, we are here for victims of mesothelioma. We want to make sure that all victims of mesothelioma get the compensation they deserve. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in receiving compensation, call 866-348-7617 for a free case evaluation today. We are available 24/7.







Written By Jeff Nelson

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Page Reviewed and Edited by
Dave Halpern, Mesothelioma Attorney

Dave Halpern is a Pennsylvania and New Jersey mesothelioma attorney with over 30 years of experience. He has investigated hundreds of cases and won numerous multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts for asbestos victims. Dave prides himself on working tirelessly to help his clients in their time of need. 

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