Louisville residents may be familiar with mesothelioma, a cancer caused usually by exposure to asbestos. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. This type can be divided into three subtypes. Normally, chemotherapy is used to treat pleural mesothelioma, but new research finds some of these subtypes do not respond so well to the treatment.

The research was conducted at some of the top research centers in the nation, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Researchers analyzed 4,655 pleural mesothelioma patients, 41 percent of whom had metastatic mesothelioma (in other words, the cancer had spread to other areas of the body). About half of these patients received chemotherapy while the others received palliative care.

Pleural mesothelioma’s three subtypes are based on cell type. Epithelioid cells are the most common type in mesothelioma; they lack uniformity and tend to form clusters. Sarcomatoid cells are the rarest and the most aggressive while biphasic mesothelioma contains both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells.

Metastatic epithelioid patients had the highest survival rate overall and responded the best to chemotherapy. As for sarcomatoid and biphasic patients, they only benefited from chemotherapy if their cancer had not spread. Researchers note that chemotherapy carries its own risks and that palliative care may be better when chemotherapy might prove ineffective.

The U.S. has not entirely banned the use of asbestos. Nevertheless, those who use products containing asbestos run the risk of developing mesothelioma. If they do, they may want to consult with a lawyer about filing a claim against those responsible. A lawyer may hire investigators to obtain proof of the other side’s negligence in using asbestos. The lawyer could speak on a victim’s behalf at the negotiation table (for an out-of-court settlement) or in the courtroom.