Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. It is among the most difficult forms of the disease to diagnose with any accuracy. A study published in AJSP: Reviews & Reports reveals that a GATA3 protein may be useful in distinguishing this rare disease.
Patients who are diagnosed with sarcomatoid mesothelioma face a much poorer outlook than those with the more common epithelioid form of the disease. This is the least common form of this already rare cancer. It includes only about 10 percent of the 2,000 to 3,000 mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
It is also the most aggressive type of this disease. Studies find that patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma survive for an average of five to six months. There is evidence linking this form of mesothelioma with higher asbestos exposures.
This short survival time makes it essential for doctors to diagnose it as quickly as possible. Yet it remains among the most difficult forms of the disease to diagnose with any accuracy.
Dr. Allen Burke of the University of Maryland reports, “It has been recently suggested that the fact that sarcomatoid mesothelioma usually is negative for mesothelioma markers has been little appreciated and ignored by pathologists and lawyers working for industry.”
The researchers say that immunohistochemistry—a diagnostic staining technique that looks for protein markers in cells that are specific to certain cancers—is not as useful for sarcomatoid tumors as it is for other types of mesothelioma.
It can look very similar to other non-cancerous and cancerous tumors, including other sarcomas (cancer that forms in connective tissue). But, the Maryland team suggests that a GATA3 protein may be useful in distinguishing it.
Dr. Teklu Legesse warns this form of “mesotheliomas can be relatively bland appearing” at first. But these latest results give oncologists a new tool to diagnose sarcomatoid mesothelioma more quickly.
The study emphasizes, once again, the dangerous nature of toxic asbestos.
Burke, Allen, Naomi Hardy, Rachel Fanaroff, and Teklu Legesse. “Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma With Bland Histologic Features: A Potential Pitfall in Diagnosis.” AJSP: Reviews & Reports 27, no. 3 (2022): 87-93. https://journals.lww.com/pathologycasereviews/toc/2022/05000