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What Are Mesothelioma Subtypes?

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Can Help You After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos by demolishing a building with asbestos in it and working on or being present around asbestos products. Scientists agree that no amount of asbestos exposure is safe, but the longer you are exposed, the more likely you are to develop health problems.

One of the biggest issues with mesothelioma is that it can take decades to develop. You may have changed jobs, moved cities, and do not even remember where you could have been exposed. However, knowing where and when you were exposed to asbestos helps your doctor treat your condition and helps you understand the party that might be liable.

Mesothelioma, like many cancers, has different subtypes. There are three previously known subtypes of mesothelioma: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Epithelial is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for up to 70 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Sarcomatoid is less common but more resistant to cancer treatment. The biphasic subtype is a mix of epithelial and sarcomatoid cells.

  • Epithelial: This subtype accounts for nearly 70 percent of all mesothelioma cases. This subtype is less aggressive and gives patients the best prognosis. It also does not spread as quickly as other subtypes.
  • Sarcomatoid: This subtype is the least common but also the most aggressive and difficult to treat. Up to 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses are of this subtype.
  • Biphasic: Around one-third of mesothelioma diagnoses are of this subtype. The patient’s prognosis depends greatly on which other subtype is most common. If more epithelioid cells are present, the prognosis is better. If there are more sarcomatous cells, it is much harder to treat and the patient’s prognosis is worse.

Scientists can determine the subtype of mesothelioma by looking at the cancer cells under a microscope. It is important to know the subtype because these different types respond differently to cancer treatments.

A New Subtype?

A recently discovered subtype is called mesothelioma in situ. This describes patients who have not yet developed a cancerous tumor but instead only have a thin layer of mesothelioma cells. Finding mesothelioma in situ in a patient is usually an accident, discovered when a patient undergoes a test for another medical condition.

The good news with this subtype is that it catches potential cancerous cells early. Not every patient who has mesothelioma in situ develops cancerous tumors, either. Even if a patient does develop mesothelioma, their doctor already knows the patient is at risk and can monitor the cells regularly.

How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

Your mesothelioma diagnosis will determine the type and level of treatment you need to attack the cancerous cells. Your doctor will need to evaluate your mesothelioma cells to figure out which subtype you have and chart a course of action based on that information, along with your age and overall health.


Surgery can be extremely effective in mesothelioma in situ cases because the cancer is caught so early on. Surgeons remove tumors and portions of organs the tumor is attached to, removing the cancerous cells from the body. While this is an invasive procedure, it is best for early mesothelioma diagnoses, as it can provide the best outcome.


More effective against later stages of mesothelioma, chemotherapy attacks the cancerous cells without removing them. This treatment can be especially hard on the body, requiring multiple visits.


Radiation therapy is hard on the body and can damage other organs. This type of treatment is often used alongside surgery to try and kill off any remaining cancerous cells not removed during surgery.

Palliative Care

The goal of this type of treatment is to relieve a patient’s pain, significantly improving the patient’s quality of life. In later stages of mesothelioma, breathing and eating can be difficult tasks. Through palliative care, these and other daily tasks can be easier and less painful.

Can You Get Compensation for Mesothelioma?

After such a tragic diagnosis, suing someone or filing a claim may be the last thing on your mind. However, paying for your treatment and shouldering the financial burden can be devastating. There are three main ways people can get compensation for mesothelioma: asbestos trust funds, trials, and settlements.

Asbestos Trust Funds

When you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, regardless of the subtype, your doctor will begin a complete medical history. You may know exactly where and when you were exposed, or it may require some digging. Either way, filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund may be the fastest way to get compensation.

Companies that have gone bankrupt have set up trust funds for people who develop mesothelioma. Since you do not have to file a lawsuit or deal with court proceedings, filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund can be the fastest way to get money, though you may get less than if you filed a lawsuit. Generally, you will get compensation within a few months of your claim being approved.


Filing a personal injury claim against a company that is still in business is another option. Going this route can take longer but may result in a larger amount of money to cover your medical bills and lost income.

When someone passes away from mesothelioma, their family can file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim alleges negligence on the part of the company and seeks to get compensation for medical expenses paid on behalf of the deceased.

In either type of court case, you could go to trial where a judge or jury will decide whether the company was negligent and owes you any compensation. If you win your case, the company may appeal, delaying the time until you get your money. With a trial, it may take years before you see any money.


Many lawsuits end in a settlement rather than going to trial. This is faster and usually cheaper for the company. It can benefit you by getting you compensation sooner and without the hassle and time delay of a trial.

Many companies will try to settle your case immediately, hoping that you do not have a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. When this happens, people often settle for far too little money, ultimately meaning that they have to pay out of pocket for some of their medical expenses. You can avoid this situation by having a lawyer who can negotiate on your behalf.

A settlement can occur at any point, too. You and your lawyer can try to settle before filing a personal injury lawsuit and even during the proceedings.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Can Help You After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma often takes decades to show up in a person’s body, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Expanding knowledge of mesothelioma and new subtypes helps people care for themselves. If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed mesothelioma, our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.