Mesothelioma And The Heart;
Surprisingly enough, one of the rarest types of asbestos-related cancers; only accounts for 1% of all cancer diagnoses and 5% of mesothelioma cases just so happens to be the most dangerous of the group, it is called pericardial Mesothelioma.
There are four common forms of mesothelioma, Pleural (lungs), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (heart) and testicular and the last two are the rarest, while the pericardial (heart) is the most aggressive type. It is confusing how tragically this silent killer can be because the diagnosis is so rare thus the life expectancy is hard to predict.
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the mesothelium (inner layer lining) surrounding the heart and is difficult to diagnose and rarely detected because doctors usually mistaking pericardial mesothelioma for pericardial constriction and tuberculosis. When it is affected it takes two or three decades to arise the detective symptoms at that time the patients are elderly and suffering from other health issues. Treatment options are very few giving an average duration is five to ten years.
Pericardial Mesothelioma An Honest Silent Killer;
One of the most upsetting statistics regarding this silent monster is that pericardial mesothelioma is always fatal unfortunately this rare disease. When the pericardium is affected by the micro asbestos fibers, these fibers mainly cause scar tissue within the fluid-filled region. This leads to the expansion of the pericardium which causes putting pressure on the heart. The effects can include improper heart function, palpitations or irregularities in heartbeat.
The pericardium and heart;
This is the double-walled fibroserous sac protector cover around the heart and the roots of the great vessels. The pericardium acts as a cushion pillow keeping the heart safe in place and from hyper-expansion when there is an increase in blood flow. In between (the pericardial cavity) is filled with serous fluid to provide lubrication and lessens the friction between the membranes. The pericardial fluid also protects the heart and the arteries and the nearby veins from suffering of any kind impact injuries.
Slow but Very Aggressive;
Any time that a mesothelioma tumor develops in the cavity of the pericardium, it can take long-term to manifest into its fatal form resulting in very high mortality rates.
It will slowly grow over a long period of time and become malignant and slowly spread metastasizes to lymph nodes and other parts of the abdomen and chest.
When it reaches this stage; destruction of the heart organ had already done resulting in signs and symptoms to be noticed, a fatal effect to the heart is developed.
Doctors describe how mesothelioma grows and spreads with 4 stages; each stage shows the details how far the cancer cells had spread from where it first appeared. These stages help doctors to determine treatments fit for each case and the decision regarding the official plan of treatment.
Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma;
Being exposed to asbestos does not result in mesothelioma right away. The symptoms may not begin to appear until 20 to 50 years later to be manifest after exposure first occurs and may not even occur until the later stages of the disease. That’s why it’s important to understand the symptoms are nonspecific can be confused with other chest diseases…they include the following:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Chronic cough
• Weight loss, and generalized weakness.
• Heart palpitations
• Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
• Fever or night sweats
• Difficulty breathing, even when at rest (dyspnea)
• Orthopnea (difficulty breathing when lying down)
These symptoms are a result of compression or constriction of the heart caused by the fluid that is accumulated around the heart. The diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma is usually difficult and late. The symptoms that are specific to pericardial mesothelioma are low blood pressure, fainting, fluid retention in the legs, and heart palpitations.
Diagnosing Pericardial Mesothelioma;
Like other mesotheliomas early diagnosis is difficult and pericardial mesothelioma it is usually diagnosed in its later stages because of the extreme rarity of the disease, which limits the treatment options. Pericardial mesothelioma can be diagnosed through several steps starting with physical examination to confirm symptoms, several imaging tests as echocardiogram and CT scan to locate the source of the symptoms then fluid and tissue biopsies. The cardiac surgeons extract fluid or tissue and test the sample to confirm the suspected mesothelioma.
How Is Pericardial Mesothelioma Treated?
In very rare cases, the Pericardial Mesothelioma may be early detected, if diagnosed early enough good prognoses to relief pain and reducing some of the symptoms and treatment options may be effective. Typical pericardial mesothelioma patients make such surgical treatment to remove the pericardium –Pericardiectomy- in localized cases which is a high-risk option and the outcome often fatal. Radiation therapy is the most effective to shrink the tumor mass although Pericardial Mesothelioma responds poorly to radiotherapy and Chemotherapy which is the most common treatment option to improve a patient’s prognosis in conjunction with radiation. Of course, every case has varied prognosis based on severity of the case such as cancer stage, the patient’s age, lifestyle, physical condition and smoking.