Pericardial mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the tissue surrounding the heart, is by far the most rare form of the cancer. Less than three hundred cases of the disease have been confirmed in the United States, and only about 1 in 40 million people can be expected to develop it annually. Much like other forms of the illness, pericardial mesothelioma is associated with exposure to asbestos fibers. The way in which asbestos fibers are transported to the pericardium without affecting other areas of the body is not entirely understood, but it’s been suggested that the dangerous particles can migrate freely between the body’s tissues for some time before malignant cells develop.
The prognosis for all forms of mesothelioma is fairly dismal. Depending on the progression of the disease and the health, medical history and age of the patient, survival can normally be expected to range between five and sixteen months. Mesothelioma impairs the body first by damaging the mesothelial tissues which makes organ function both painful and less effective, and finally by spreading to the organs themselves causing organ dysfunction and failure. The vast majority of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma do not survive for more than a year.
Pericardial mesothelioma can be recognized by a swelling in the chest, distinct pain and discomfort of the chest, and heart irregularities including palpitations. Much like other forms of mesothelioma, distinguishing the disease can be difficult due to the vague nature of its symptoms. A tissue sample, or biopsy, is the only certain method of diagnosis.
Like all forms of the cancer, pericardial mesothelioma is terminal. Treatment options are non curative and revolve around increasing the patient’s comfort, survival, and quality of life. Most victims of pericardial mesothelioma undergo surgery to alleviate painful constriction of the heart. Early diagnosis plays an important role in the relative success of prescribed treatments. Patients presenting the symptoms associated with pericardial mesothelioma should describe their history with asbestos exposure to their doctor to expedite the diagnosis.
Learn more about treating pericardial mesothelioma.