A rare version of mesothelioma is known as well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma (WDPM). It is epithelial in nature, meaning it affects only epithelial cells. The way it manifests is quite different from malignant mesothelioma because its likelihood of metastasis to other organs or areas of the body is low. Unlike more common forms of mesothelioma, it occurs more often in women and carries a favorable prognosis.

Who Is Most at Risk for Developing Papillary Mesothelioma?

While evidence is conclusive that men develop malignant mesothelioma much more often than women, it seems to be the opposite for papillary mesothelioma. The papillary variant is predominantly diagnosed in premenopausal females between ages 30 and 40.

Treatments for Papillary Mesothelioma

Because of its rarity, it has been difficult to recommend any particular course of treatment for the disease. Doctors with patients who have this disease must rely on studies, which have revealed that treatments for malignant mesothelioma are commonly applied. These treatments involve chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical procedures.

Because this cancer is considered less aggressive, the prognosis is usually more favorable. In fact, one study conducted at the Department of Pathology CHU Caen in Caen, France, found that out of 24 patients with well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma, the average mesothelioma survival rate was 74 months. The statistic, compared to 9.89 months in patients with diffuse malignant mesothelioma, proves that papillary mesothelioma is associated with longer survival. Moreover, the 10-year survival for those with WDPM was 30.8%.

Tumors of Papillary Mesothelioma

The clinical manifestations of papillary mesothelioma are often benign and cause very little, if any, pain to the person diagnosed. The prognosis for someone with papillary mesothelioma is typically very good. There have been, however, a few cases of aggressive papillary mesothelioma. It is very common for this disease, even as a benign tumor, to recur.

The typical place for papillary mesothelioma to develop is in the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity, also known as the peritoneum, of women during their reproductive years. There have been other cases of this tumor developing in the reproductive system of males, particularly in the tunica vaginalis. Other locations for this disease to develop include the ovaries, the mesothelium of the lungs (known as the pleura), and the mesothelium of the heart, known as the pericardium.

How Papillary Mesothelioma Develops

Traditional malignant mesothelioma has been shown to be caused by asbestos exposure in nearly all known cases. With papillary mesothelioma, there does not appear to be a direct correlation between this exposure and the development of the disease, as many cases have been reported in which there is no known exposure to this mineral. However, a significant number of patients have developed papillary mesothelioma after having experienced asbestos exposure, either through their occupational work or because of secondary exposure. Household exposure is also possible.

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