Mesothelioma Research Team Identifies Features That Point to Greater Mortality Risk

Though malignant mesothelioma has a well-deserved reputation as a fatal form of cancer, some patients survive far longer than others, with some living decades beyond the time that their disease is diagnosed. Identifying the distinguishing factors that make patients more or less vulnerable to dying of the disease has long been a priority for researchers. Now a group from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Sao Paolo have identified some features that increase mortality.

Risk of Mesothelioma Death Linked to Tumors Rather than Cells

There are certain mesothelioma risk factors that are clear. People who are older and whose health was not good to begin with are automatically classified as being at higher risk, and the same is true of those whose mesothelioma is diagnosed as being either the sarcomatoid or biphasic subtype of the disease.

But mesothelioma researchers from the University of Sao Paolo and the Mayo Clinic recently published a study in the journal Cancer Medicine that showed there are other factors known as clinicopathological features — detectable through high end testing including immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and morphometry — that clearly indicate a higher risk for death.

Features Unrelated to Mesothelioma Cell Type Are Predictive of Higher Mortality 

Though physicians often focus on the type of mesothelioma cell that a patient is found to have, the new research shows that there are predictive elements in the environment of the tumor and the tumor itself that can give them an indication of their prognosis.  These elements include the volume of cells that a tumor contains and the type of immune system cells present.

The researchers studied tissue samples from dozens of mesothelioma patients and found two groups that were identified as having a 2.19 times greater risk of dying within 40 months of diagnosis. Closer examination of their tumors found that they had several things in common, including:

  • A higher density of mesothelioma cells 
  • High type V collagen fiber density (Col V)
  • Low CD8+ T lymphocytes in the area around the tumor

According to lead author Marcelo Luiz Balancin of the University of Sao Paulo, knowing the predictive strength of these factors is likely to guide treatment in the future. In his conclusion, Balancin writes, “Morphometric analysis of Col V, CD8+ T lymphocytes, and tumor cellularity can be used to identify patients with high risk of death from mesothelioma.” 

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma following asbestos exposure, the Patient Advocates at can provide you with the resources you need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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