✓ Mesothelioma - Pericardial (Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosing,Treatment)



Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare type of mesothelioma, this cancer originates from the lining around certain organs. This mesothelioma originates in the lining of the heart, and is one of the rarest cases of mesothelioma, occurring in only about one to 10 percent of all patients.

The only known, or even suspected, cause of all forms of mesothelioma, including pericardial mesothelioma, is exposure to asbestos. Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of all mesothelioma patients have documented histories of asbestos exposure, although it is thought that the remaining 20 to 30 percent of patients may have been exposed to dust from asbestos, but were not aware of its exposure.
The use of Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral which is very commonly used for insulation. It could be found in automotive brakes, residential insulation, and many construction materials. The asbestos dust is easily inhaled, and can also be ingested when it settles on food or in drinking water.

Although the link between pericardial mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos has not been fully studied, the closest theory to date is that when people breathe in asbestos dust, these fibers enter into the bloodstream and then make their way into the heart. The fibers, which can be sharp and spiny, become embedded in the pericardial mesothelium, or lining of the heart, and cannot be removed. Because the body has no way of ridding itself of asbestos, and because it views asbestos as a foreign object, the asbestos fibers are treated as an infection by the body. When asbestos is trapped in the lining of the human heart, it mutates in the surrounding cells, causing cancerous tumors
The time between the exposure itself and the actual development of mesothelioma cancer is usually several decades, with most people diagnosed between 30 and 45 years after their contact with asbestos.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Most patients do not consult their doctor immediately, because the initial symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are invisible and non-specific. The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include coughing, palpitations and extreme fatigue after only light activity, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. Sometimes they are even written off as an unfortunate part of the aging process. When the patient presents with these symptoms, further tests may show pericarditis, or swelling of the heart; or tamponade of the heart, a condition in which blood or other fluids build up in the pericardium (the lining of the heart). Especially when combined with previous work history or prolonged exposure to asbestos, these symptoms can allow doctors to suspect pericardial mesothelioma.

Moreover, many of the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma do not become apparent until more advanced stages of the disease, which further complicates both diagnosis and prognosis.
If a pericardial mesothelioma is suspected, body scans such as X-rays, MRI, and CT scans will be performed to make a very convincing diagnosis. The diagnostic method can also identify possible locations for development and growth; if a growth is found, the doctor will order a biopsy, or tissue sample, which will then be analyzed by a pathologist. After a definite diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma has been given and the doctor will determine how the stage of the disease, or determine the progress of the disease, and will treat the patient to develop a treatment plan.

Treatment

Surgical steps to remove the tumor may be performed if mesothelioma has been diagnosed during Stage I, and if it has not metastasized or has spread to other parts of the human body. Surgery is a very risky procedure mainly because the tumor is very close to the heart and lungs.
Radiation can also be used to shrink the tumors, although this carries with it the risk of damaging nearby organs, such as the heart and the lungs. As for internal radiation, where the presence of radioactive material is introduced directly into the body via capsules or seeds that can be applied directly to the tumor; this procedure can minimize damage to these important organs. Unfortunately research has not shown a clear benefit for chemotherapy in the treatment of pericardial mesothelioma, but several anecdotal studies have found evidence that this treatment can also help.

Prognosis
Because of the location of pericardial mesothelioma in conjunction with a lack of symptoms until the more advanced stages of the disease, the prognosis for this disease is quite poor. Average life span after initial diagnosis is only six months. Death is frequently a result of congestive heart failure or the blockage of the superior vena cava. If, however, pericardial mesothelioma is identified in its early stages (as most often occurs during screening for other health issues), then the prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma can be similar to that of other cancers that are identified early on, especially if the patient is young and in good health, and therefore more able to tolerate surgery and radiation.
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