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Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer in the lining that surrounds the heart, called the pericardium. The pericardium are cells that produce a lubricating fluid that protect the heart. They allow the heart to move freely when, for instance, it is pumping blood to other parts of your body.
Pericardial mesothelioma cancer is found in less than 10% of mesothelioma patients. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. For pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining), the disease process is fairly well understood: it's caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers that settle in the lungs, and become inserted in the lung lining (or pleura). These asbestos fibers are very durable and cannot be eliminated through the body’s processes. Over time, these fibers cause chronic inflammation that eventually leads to growth of cancerous tumors or, in some cases, asbestosis.
Pericardial mesothelioma is the most infrequent form of this rare asbestos-linked cancer. Individuals with pericardial mesothelioma have cancerous growths in tissues surrounding the heart. Due to the rarity of this cancer, pericardial mesothelioma has not been definitely associated with asbestos exposure, although strong links between asbestos and pericardial mesothelioma have been made.
There are a number of symptoms assosiated with pericardial mesothelioma. However, these are only felt when the cancer has matured and is in its late stages of development. These symptoms include, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations. Other symptoms typical of all types of mesothelioma include loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss. Anyone who recognises that they have these symptoms or know someone who does then is encouraged by all leading medical advisors to seek medical help immediately.
The early symptoms indicating pericardial mesothelioma include chest pain, dyspnea, cough, and palpitations. Patients displaying the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are usually given either an X-Ray or a CT scan to look for evidence of pericardial mesothelioma. Growths or abnormalities in the tissue around the heart lead to an attempt to diagnose pericardial mesothelioma through biopsy surgery.
Once a thorough assessment of the situation has been made, the pericardial mesothelioma patient and the doctor will discuss possible treatment options; including whether to attempt to defeat the pericardial mesothelioma or just to improve the patients quality of life for the time remaining. Decisions about pericardial mesothelioma usually involve consideration of the patients age and condition, the stage to which the pericardial mesothelioma has advanced, and tumor size and location. Most patients are in advanced stages of pericardial mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis and therefore opt for surgery to address the discomfort.
Because pericardial Mesothelioma is almost always detected at a late stage, treatment options are palliative rather than curative. Any procedures or treatments suggested by doctors are usually to help reduce pain or relieve the symptoms of the disease. For many, improving the patient's quality of life for his/her remaining weeks or months is of the utmost importance at this stage. The age and general health of the patient as well as the patient's individual wishes should, of course, be taken into consideration.
Surgery is used on rare occasions in Stage IV patients to reduce fluid collection. If the disease were to be detected early enough and before it has metastasized, surgery may be performed to remove the affected portion of the pericardium.
For most, unfortunately, pericardial Mesothelioma is a death sentence. If you close to has been diagnosed with this form of asbestos-related cancer, options will be limited.
While pericardial mesothelioma has not been definitively linked to asbestos exposure, the indications are strong that pericardial mesothelioma is related to asbestos, as are the other forms of mesothelioma. Patients with pericardial mesothelioma may be eligible to recover medical fees and other costs associated with pericardial mesothelioma from parties proven responsible for asbestos exposure. Contact an Asbestos Attorney experienced in cases related to pericardial mesothelioma may be able to help you determine your legal options.
The main reason for the low survival rate of pericardial mesothelioma is the tardiness of the diagnosis. If it’s possible to diagnose early, there are number of steps that can be taken to increase the chance of survival. If possible, those who have been exposed to asbestos in the past and are still asymptomatic should go to a doctor to receive regular pulmonary and cardiac examinations to check for irregularities. More treatment options are viable at an early stage, including possibly surgery to remove the affected area of the pericardium if it is still isolated.
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