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Often associated with asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is a relatively uncommon form of cancer that is categorized based on the tissue in which the malignancy originated. The most common type, epithelial mesothelioma, affects the epithelial cells in the pleura, which are the membranes that line the chest cavity and surround the lungs. There are several subtypes of epithelial cells, which can influence treatment decisions.
What are the symptoms of epithelial mesothelioma?
In its early stages, epithelial mesothelioma tends to produce nonspecific symptoms that mimic those of less severe respiratory conditions, such as asthma and pneumonia. In many cases, a persistent cough is the first symptom that prompts a visit with a physician. The coughing may be accompanied by:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest wall pain
- Unexplained weight loss
After ruling out more common causes of these symptoms, a physician may order an imaging test, such as an X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which can reveal possible tumors and other abnormalities in the lungs. If cancer is suspected, the physician will typically order a tissue biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and identify the cell type(s) present in the tumor.
How is epithelial mesothelioma treated?
In general, many patients receive a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Treatment for epithelial mesothelioma can vary depending on the subtype and stage of the cancer. Overall, epithelial cells tend to respond more favorably to treatment than other types of mesothelioma cells.
Epithelial mesothelioma treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
The multispecialty team in Moffitt Cancer Center’s nationally recognized Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center takes a highly individualized approach to epithelial mesothelioma treatment. Through our robust portfolio of clinical trials, our patients also have unique opportunities to be among the first to benefit from novel treatment options that are not yet available in other settings.