What is Cystic Mesothelioma?
Cystic mesothelioma is a rare form of the disease and accounts for only 1% of all mesotheliomas. The cysts can range in size from less than one centimeter to larger than 12 centimeters. Although most people diagnosed with this disease have an average age of 75 at diagnosis, reports indicate that it may also occur in young adults.
How does Cystic Mesothelioma Begin?
This type of cancer begins in the cells that form fluid-filled sacs called serous membranes, which line body cavities such as those previously mentioned. The most common symptoms of cystic mesothelioma are caused by the pressure that tumors put on these membranes and include:
The cells that line the chest wall and abdomen are called the mesothelial cells. These cells produce a thin layer of fluid known as serous fluid. The serous fluid acts to lubricate tissues within the body cavity and act an important role in digestion. Mesothelioma is a disease in which the mesothelial cells become cancerous and reproduce in an uncontrolled fashion.
Cystic mesothelioma of the pleura is characterized by cysts on the surface of the lung. The fluid within these cysts is called serous fluid or peritoneal fluid. It can also be referred to as a pseudo capsule or a pseudocavity. The cysts can vary in size from less than one centimeter to larger than 12 centimeters. Blood vessels and nerves run through these cysts which help with the nutritional supply of mesothelial cells in the pleura.
The cause is unknown however asbestos exposure has been implicated as a possible cause.
Diagnosis of Cystic Mesothelioma
Cystic mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the serous membrane, also known as the peritoneum. It can be hard to diagnose because cystic mesothelioma often has symptoms similar to those of other diseases.
This type of cancer is somewhat rare in the U.S., with fewer than 200 new cases diagnosed each year. It can be difficult to diagnose early, but when caught quickly enough after the development of symptoms it is often curable. Unfortunately, this is often not the case because cystic mesothelioma is too often discovered at later stages of development.
Cause of Cystic Mesothelioma
The cause is unknown as there are no known risk factors however asbestos exposure may be a causal factor. The tumor appears as cysts on the pleura surface, and it is often misdiagnosed as tuberculosis or lung cancer. Cystic peritoneal mesothelioma is often detected in the later stages of the disease when cancer has already metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body, particularly lymph nodes, and the liver.
Symptoms of Cystic Mesothelioma
Symptoms of cystic mesothelioma may mimic those of other diseases. Some common symptoms include a dull aching in the chest, shortness of breath, and chronic cough (9). Cystic mesothelioma can also present with fewer symptoms such as low-grade fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
Fatigue Shortness of breath, particularly if physical exertion is involved Chest pain or discomfort which occurs when organs and tissues begin to be crushed and compressed by tumor growth Weight loss Abdominal swelling or distention due to ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)
How to test for Cystic Mesothelioma?
A chest X-ray may show the presence of cysts on the lung, but this is not always the case. A CT scan and a CAT scan help to define more precisely where these cysts are located and if there is any linking between them. If surgery becomes necessary to remove the lining of the lung, it can cause these cysts to rupture which can cause fluid to accumulate in the pleural cavity.
One study reports that 24% of patients with cystic mesothelioma will develop metastasis. Of those patients who developed metastasis, 44% had nodal or abdominal involvement and 20% had distant metastasis. In a study by Laskin et al, metastasis occurred in 62.5% of patients with cystic mesothelioma.
Survival Rate With Cystic Mesothelioma
The median survival is 2 to 4 months with treatment. Treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. The most common forms of chemotherapy include cisplatin, carboplatin, and etoposide. Even with treatment, the median survival is only 4 months.
The disease is very rare with a prevalence of 5 per million people. Most patients are over the age of 75 although it has been reported in young adults as well. The prognosis for cystic mesothelioma is poor with a median survival of only four months. Only 24% of patients are alive after two years.
What to do if diagnosed with Cystic Mesothelioma?
If you or someone you know has been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with cystic mesothelioma and they have a history of asbestos exposure, it is important to seek prompt medical attention and determine whether cancer should be treated as a distinct entity or if mesothelioma is to blame. While this disease is rare, it can be difficult to diagnose early because symptoms are not always obvious.
Cystic mesothelioma is a rare form of disease that accounts for only 1% of all mesotheliomas. The cysts can range in size from less than one centimeter to larger than 12 centimeters. Although most people diagnosed with this disease have an average age of 75 at diagnosis, reports indicate that it may also occur in young adults. The cause is unknown however asbestos exposure has been implicated as a possible cause. Symptoms of cystic mesothelioma may mimic those of other diseases.
Some common symptoms include a dull aching in the chest, shortness of breath, and chronic cough. A chest X-ray may show the presence of cysts on the lung, but this is not always the case. The most common forms of chemotherapy include cisplatin, carboplatin, and etoposide. Only 24% of patients are alive after two years. The median survival is 2 to 4 months with treatment.
When we think of the kinds of cancers that asbestos causes, one of the first types that come to mind is the usual pleura. This is because pleural mesothelioma is such common lung cancer and has been studied more than any other type associated with asbestos exposure. However, asbestosis is responsible for other types of cancers as well, including tumors of the peritoneum. This type of cancer is known as cystic mesothelioma and it poses its own unique challenges to physicians and patients.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. As with pleural mesothelioma, cystic mesothelioma can cause serious problems that require immediate medical intervention. Because the peritoneum begins to produce fluid as tumors grow and compress, those who have been diagnosed with this kind of cancer are often extremely bloated and full of fluid. This can cause a loss of appetite and major discomfort that cannot be relieved by medication.
In addition to the physical challenges that come along with cystic mesothelioma, there is also a significant emotional component as well. Many patients have been misdiagnosed with other types of cancer or they have been experiencing symptoms for years before they are properly diagnosed. Both of these scenarios can result in a great deal of emotional distress, which is compounded by the physical challenges that this disease brings along.
In order to receive the best possible outcome from any type of cancer diagnosis, it is best to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. This is especially true with the cancers caused by asbestos because they are aggressive and typically diagnosed in later stages of development. Many people survive mesothelioma if it is caught early enough, but only when diagnosis occurs before tumors have started to cause fluid build-up in the abdomen or lungs.