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Biphasic Mesothelioma

Biphasic mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that usually affects the membrane lining of the lung or abdominal cavity. It is a malignant tumor that originates from cells that produce a protective lining around organs like the heart, stomach, and lungs.

Biphasic mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. It develops years after exposure and can be challenging to diagnose because it has similar symptoms as other types of lung cancer.

Key Facts About Biphasic Mesothelioma

  • Biphasic mesothelioma exhibits cells that are both epithelioid and sarcomatoid.
  • Around 20-30% of all mesotheliomas are recognized as being biphasic, making this the second most common type of mesothelioma.
  • People with biphasic mesothelioma have a median survival of 10 months.
  • Biphasic tumors with a higher proportion of sarcomatoid cells tend to have a worse prognosis than those primarily made up of epithelioid cells.

What Is Biphasic Mesothelioma?

Biphasic mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs. It is a form of mesothelioma, which is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Biphasic mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other types of lung cancers, such as non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.

What Do Biphasic Tumors Look Like?

Biphasic is not a cell type in itself, but instead these tumors are made up of two different types of mesothelioma cells. Malignant biphasic tumors contain a combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells.

Epithelioid Cells

Epithelial cells are the most common type of cell in the human body. They form a protective, skin-like layer around organs and other structures. They can also be found in many different parts of the body such as the outer surface of your lung, inside your mouth, and on your kidney.

Epithelial cells line the body’s organs, cover the skin’s surface, and form glands that produce mucus. These cells are made up of a single cell layer with an irregular shape that can vary from cell to cell. The arrangement of these cells is also variable due to location.

The cells will typically be one of the three basic cell shapes – squamous, cuboidal, or columnar. A squamous epithelial cell is flat under a microscope. A cuboidal epithelial cell appears similar in shape to a square. A columnar epithelial cell can be identified by looking like a column or a tall rectangle under a microscope.

The cells that line the lung are a simple type of epithelium, which is only one layer thick. They are composed of cells that appear squamous (flat) under a microscope.

Sarcomatoid Cells

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that develops from cells in the lining of the lungs. It is closely related to other forms of mesothelioma, but it has sarcoma-like features and typically looks spindle-shaped under a microscope.

They are also more likely to break off from the tumor and spread to other areas of the body, making sarcoma a very deadly cancer. The spindle shape of these cells makes it difficult for them to stick together, meaning they can easily spread throughout the body.

What Causes Biphasic Mesothelioma?

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that have been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Asbestos fibers are made up of bundles of long, thin, tightly woven bundles of fibers that can be inhaled. Asbestos fibers are not visible to the naked eye, but they can cause health problems when they are inhaled.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for centuries in construction and manufacturing because of its unique properties.

It can be found in homes, schools, office buildings, and other structures built before 1989. If not properly removed, asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled or ingested. There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.

One of the many health problems that asbestos can cause is biphasic mesothelioma. This happens when the asbestos fibers are inhaled and cause irritation to the lining of the lungs or other areas of the body. This irritation leads to scarring which can cause the cells to mutate and begin to grow out of control. This is when mesothelioma occurs.

Symptoms of Biphasic Mesothelioma

The symptoms of biphasic mesothelioma are similar to those for other types of mesothelioma. The first symptoms of biphasic mesothelioma are usually shortness of breath, chest pain and weight loss. The symptoms may be more severe if the person has been exposed to asbestos for a long time.

Other symptoms that a person may experience if they have biphasic mesothelioma include:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • night sweats
  • unexplained weight loss
  • general feeling of ill health
  • difficulty swallowing
  • anemia
  • a mass in the chest wall or unusual lumps of tissue under the skin of the chest

Diagnosing Biphasic Mesothelioma

A mesothelioma diagnosis is made from a thorough analysis of the patient’s symptoms and medical history and through various diagnostic tests such as chest X-rays, blood tests, and chemical analyses.

A biopsy is usually taken to determine if the tumor is cancerous and to investigate it using a microscope. When mesothelioma contains both epithelioid cells and sarcomatoid cells, it is designated as biphasic.

What are the Treatment Options for Biphasic Mesothelioma?

There are a number of different treatment options for biphasic mesothelioma. Which treatment you receive will depend on the make up of the tumor, and your overall health. Your doctor will discuss your options with you, but you will likely have one or more of the following treatments.


Surgery is used to remove as much of the tumor as possible and to relieve pressure on the lungs. However, mesothelioma tumors can grow quickly and can be difficult to completely remove because they are so close to vital organs and other structures inside the body.

It also depends on the structure of the cancer. If the tumor is mostly sarcomatoid cells, it may be more difficult to remove. Surgery is typically not an option for sarcomatoid mesothelioma.


Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. It is a common treatment for mesothelioma, and it can be used in combination with other treatments.

The main goal of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to stop the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. They work by stopping cell division and blocking the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow.

According to the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy drugs are most effective when they are combined with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Typically, the more treatments you get, the better your chances will be at remission.

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of drug, dosage, and length of treatment. These side effects can range from mild nausea and vomiting to more serious problems like hair loss, mouth sores, or anemia.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can be used to shrink the tumors and relieve pain and other symptoms. Radiation therapy for mesothelioma may be given as a single treatment or in multiple treatments over time.

Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can be given either externally (from outside the body) or internally (from inside the body). External radiation therapies are most often used because they are less invasive and require less recovery time. Internal radiotherapy treatments are more commonly used when there’s no safe place on the outside of the body to give external treatments because internal tissue cannot be seen on x-rays.

What is the Prognosis for Biphasic Mesothelioma?

A biphasic sarcoma is a tumor that has both sarcomatoid and epithelioid components. In general, tumors with a higher proportion of sarcomatoid cells tend to have a worse prognosis than those primarily made up of epithelioid cells. This is because sarcomatoid cells are more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread throughout the body.

Overall, people with biphasic mesothelioma have a median survival of 10 months, but as mentioned, this can vary widely depending on the ratio of mesothelioma cells in the tumor.

It is important to remember that advances in medicine are happening every day, and that the current average survival rate is not indicative of your own.


Read on to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding biphasic mesothelioma.

What does biphasic mean in cancer?

In cancer, biphasic means that the tumor is made up of two different cell types. In the case of biphasic mesothelioma, these are epethelioid cells and sarcomatoid cells.

What is the life expectancy of a person with biphasic mesothelioma?

The life expectancy of someone with biphasic mesothelioma varies depending on the exact make up of the tumor. People with tumors that are mostly made up of epithelioid cells have a better outlook than those with tumors primarily consisting of sarcomatoid cells. Overall, people with biphasic mesothelioma have a median survival of 10 months.

Next Steps

If you’ve been diagnosed with biphasic mesothelioma, you should:

  • Get a second opinion from a specialist.
  • Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan.
  • Ask questions about what other treatments are available for your biphasic mesothelioma.

You may also want to consider finding and joining a local support group with people who are in the same situation as you.