The differing clinical behaviour of malignant mesothelioma of different cell types was studied in 115 cases of pleural mesothelioma, classified histologically into epithelial (60), sarcomatous (25), and mixed (30). Epithelial mesotheliomas were associated with clinical features characteristic of carcinomas rather than sarcomas, including spread of tumour by direct extension, large pleural effusions, contralateral pleural effusions, ascites, metastases in regional lymph nodes, and occasional response to radiotherapy. Sarcomatous mesotheliomas were associated with clinical features more characteristic of sarcomas, with more frequent distant metastases, little or no effusion, and shorter survival. Mixed tumours had features of both, large pleural effusions occurring as frequently as with epithelial tumours, but survival being almost as poor as in sarcomatous cases. Despite these differences there is evidence from published reports that epithelial, sarcomatous, and mixed mesotheliomas have a common origin from mesothelial cells or their precursor cells.
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