Small Cell Mesothelioma

A rare type of mesothelioma being found is called small cell mesothelioma and it is being mistaken for small cell lung cancer.

The cancerous cells found in these tumors are notably smaller than cells in other subtypes of mesothelioma and are difficult to identify.

Diagnosis Of Small Cell Mesothelioma

One of the challenges associated with this type of mesothelioma is the difficulty in correctly diagnosing it.

Since these cancerous cells are so visually similar to other small cell cancers, doctors need to run additional tests to verify which disease they are diagnosing.

These immunohistochemical tests can help to show whether the cells belong to mesothelioma, or other diseases it often resembles, such as:

  • Lymphoma
  • Peripheral neuroectodermal tumors
  • Desmoplastic small round cell tumor
  • Small cell lung carcinoma

The diagnosis can be further complicated during the biopsy. The biopsy for small cell mesothelioma can often show much higher levels of small cells than are representative of the tumor. In cases like this, there may be a need for several rounds of biopsy sampling. Once the reactions to various chemical markers are seen, it can be determined with greater confidence whether the cells belong to small cell mesothelioma or small cell lung cancer.

Treatment Of Small Cell Mesothelioma

Since small cell lung cancer is often extremely difficult to treat and is shown to be far more aggressive than other lung cancers, it is usually associated with shorter periods of survival. In a study from 2012 of eight small cell mesothelioma patients, the observed mean survival time of the patients was just 8.2 months with 6 of the 8 sadly passing away before the observation period could be completed.

Surgery is generally ineffective in small cell mesothelioma management. Often treatment plans rely on chemotherapy and radiation therapy to help mitigate the aggression of the cancer. Chemotherapy is frequently used to help slow or even reverse the growth of mesothelioma that is unable to be removed with surgery. In some cases, chemo may be used to shrink the tumor before surgical removal. Radiation therapy can help by focusing energy beams on a specific spot, helping to kill the cancer cells in situations where the cancer may be too advanced for other treatments like surgery.

Other treatments like immunotherapy and targeted therapy may also show some effectiveness in the treatment of small cell mesothelioma. Immunotherapy uses your immune system to help fight the cancer. While it is not an option for everyone, it may be an option if other treatments have not been successful. Targeted therapy is a technique that uses drugs to trigger and attach specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells. These are generally not drugs that are commonly used in mesothelioma treatment, but depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may recommend targeted therapy if the results of the tumor DNA test indicate that it might be an effective option.