The type of asbestos to which you were exposed doesn’t appear to have anything to do with how good or bad your mesothelioma prognosis is.
The same goes for the form the asbestos was in when you encountered it. That’s also true with regard to where you came into contact with the toxic mineral – at the factory, shop, aboard ship, in the home or someplace else.
Researchers from Australia have conducted an investigation into whether the type, form or location of asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma cells to develop certain attributes that affect your survival chances.
The answer they came up with is no. From what these scientists can tell, there is no solid link between the characteristics of the asbestos exposure and of the resulting mesothelioma.
Types of Mesothelioma Cells: Epithelioid, Biphasic and Sarcomatoid
The researchers use the term “mesothelioma characteristics” in talking about the mesothelioma cell type making up the tumors growing inside you.
Mesothelioma cells come in three types. They are epithelioid, biphasic and sarcomatoid. Knowing which of these is growing inside you is very important. Your mesothelioma survival time is influenced by the cell type.
Let’s say your mesothelioma cells are of the epithelioid type. This type usually responds to treatment. Response to treatment also usually means you have pretty good odds for long survival.
Let’s say instead that your mesothelioma cells are of the sarcomatoid type. This type usually responds poorly to treatment. Poor response to treatment also usually means you have lousy odds for long survival.
The biphasic type of cell is basically a cross between the epithelioid and sarcomatoid types. Response to treatment is fair – not good, not poor, but about in the middle. Same with survival expectations.
Exposure to asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma. But asbestos comes in different types. It also comes in a variety of materials and products. And it is encountered in many different settings.
Those variables have long caused mesothelioma specialists to wonder if there was any bearing on whether the mesothelioma that eventually occurred would be of the epithelioid, biphasic or sarcomatoid type.
The question hadn’t really been addressed until researchers from the University of Western Australia and several other institutions teamed up to investigate.
Mesothelioma Records Reviewed for Type of Asbestos Exposure
The researchers checked the medical records of everyone in the state of Western Australia who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma between 1962 and 2012.
The records they examined were kept by the Western Australian Mesothelioma Registry. These records included information about each patient’s mesothelioma cell type.
The records also included information about the type of asbestos to which each patient was exposed, whether the asbestos was raw or processed, and where the exposure occurred.
The researchers said their review of these records turned up “no strong evidence” of any “consistent” connection between mesothelioma cell characteristics and asbestos exposure characteristics.
There was only one finding worth noting: the biphasic cell type showed up more often in patients who worked with asbestos in raw form than in those who only handled asbestos contained in a product.
The researchers shared these and other findings in “Asbestos Exposure and Histological Subtype of Malignant Mesothelioma” published in the online edition of the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.