Pericardial Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining around the heart (the pericardium). This form of cancer is extremely rare, impacting less than 1% of all mesothelioma cases. Like all other forms of malignant mesothelioma, experts believe that asbestos is the cause of pericardial mesothelioma. Asbestos is a carcinogenic fire-retardant material that was commonly used in industrial, construction, and military contexts until the late 1980s.
Scientists believe that the microscopic asbestos fibers penetrate the lungs first, and then these tiny fibers travel through the lymphatic system to other vital organs, including the heart. In some instances, pleural mesothelioma may attach to the chest wall, and then spread to the lining of the heart. The symptoms of this condition only become apparent in its later stages, which makes this a particularly difficult form of mesothelioma to cure. Symptoms are often caused by a buildup of fluid around the heart, which thickens the layers of the membrane.
Difficulty breathing (dyspnea), irregular heartbeats or palpitations (arrhythmia), cough, chest pain, general fatigue, and night sweats are just some of the symptoms caused by pericardial mesothelioma. Unfortunately, these symptoms are shared with other medical conditions, which can make pericardial mesothelioma even more difficult to properly diagnose.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you meet with a cardiologist who will most likely recommend obtaining a CT scan, X-ray, or echocardiogram to render a diagnosis. The echocardiogram will show any fluid buildup around the heart, while scans will reveal the presence of tumors.
Pericardial mesothelioma is most common in men between the ages of 50 and 70. The average survival rate is 6-10 months, due to the fact that symptoms often manifest once the cancer has developed past the point of treatment. In fact, a number of the cases reported each year are diagnosed through an autopsy.
However, there have been cases of successful treatment and patients who have survived many years following a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma. There have also been cases of patients who underwent surgery to remove tumors and/or chemotherapy with no later signs of regression.
Sometimes patients will not be able to undergo surgery because of potential complications due to the close proximity of the heart and lungs. These patients may elect for palliative treatment that manages pain through medication and/or pericardiocentesis, which is the removal of excess fluid from the heart’s membrane, relieving pressure around the heart.
Although this is one of the rarest types of mesothelioma, you or your loved ones still need to look into options for compensation with the help of qualified legal counsel.The Meso Law Firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Taking legal action is important because it can help offset the costs of these surgeries, treatments, or palliative care. For example, medicare does not cover the costs of hospice or in home care. Those costs can add up very quickly. Remember that while pericardial mesothelioma is a serious medical condition with a grim outlook for some, for others surgery and chemotherapy have given them a new lease on life.