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Well-Differentiated Papillary Mesothelioma (WDPM)

Known as a disease that primarily develops in women, well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma (WDPM) is a slow-moving and rare variation in the mesothelioma family.

WDPM, also known as papillary mesothelioma, is an unusual form of epithelial mesothelioma because it is generally considered to be of low malignancy potential. However, it’s unclear if it could develop into malignant mesothelioma. Studies show that a majority of previously reported cases of WDPM developed in young women without a history of asbestos exposure.

Overall,mesothelioma is a rare and dangerous cancer that is known to develop in older men, years after long-term and persistent exposure to asbestos. The disease is known to have a 20- to 50-year latency period. When compared to the three main types of mesothelioma – pleural, pericardial and peritoneal – WDPM is exceptional because it is not directly linked to asbestos exposure.

What is WDPM?

Although WDPM has been diagnosed in men, it mainly strikes women in their reproductive years. It is a cancer that typically develops in the peritoneum, or the membrane that forms the lining of the abdomen, and is often referred to as “a tumor of uncertain malignant potential.” That means it is unclear if the benign WDPM tumors could turn cancerous at some point. It is a disease that is so rare that researchers have not fully investigated the nature of the disease.

While WDPM most frequently develops in the abdomen, some WDPM patients have had tumors on other areas of the body, including the pleura (the lining of the lungs), the pericardium (the lining around the heart) and the tunica vaginalis (the lining surround the testes).

Symptoms Of WDPM

Most patients who have WDPM do not have any immediately recognizable symptoms that would suggest a mesothelioma diagnosis. Generally, symptoms include fluid retention, abdominal pain, cramping, and constipation. If tumors are present in the chest area, the patient may also have difficulty breathing. Patients are typically diagnosed during unrelated pelvic or abdominal procedures, including surgery or imaging tests.

WDPM is often misdiagnosed because it is easily confused with other rare, more serious diseases, including tuberculous peritonitis, which is a rare pulmonary infection, and peritoneal carcinomatosis, an abdominal cancer. Currently, the only definitive way to diagnose WDPM is through a biopsy.

Best Known Treatments

Because WDPM is so rare, there is no set protocol to treat the disease. Most WDPM patients undergo an exploratory laparotomy, which allows doctors to visually and manually examine the tumors to determine if the disease must be immediately treated. Some doctors treat the WDPM with the standard mesothelioma treatment –surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Others take a more conservative approach.

Overall, the prognosis and survival rate for WDPM is far better than those diagnosed with other forms of mesothelioma. Studies have shown that patients live decades after diagnosis and treatment.

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