Of the three types of malignant mesothelioma that are diagnosed, pericardial mesothelioma is the most rare. It accounts for just 10 percent of all cases that are diagnosed. The condition, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is also the most difficult of the mesothelioma diagnoses to treat, and the one that causes the most significant and immediate damage to the body.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for compensation from the asbestos companies. Contact us today to receive a free Financial Compensation Packet, or to set up a consultation to discuss your case with one of our mesothelioma lawyers.
Pericardial mesothelioma impacts the part of the body known as the pericardium. The pericardium is a cone-shaped sac of tissue that holds both the heart and the various vessels that branch off from it. It is attached to the diaphragm and the back of the breastbone, and is filled with pericardial fluid that allows the heart to beat smoothly. The pericardium has a lining known as a mesothelium, and it is this organ whose cells are particularly affected by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers become embedded in the mesothelium, they cause cell death and mutations that eventually grow into mesothelioma tumors and then spread to other parts of the body.
Because of pericardial mesothelioma’s location and close proximity to the heart, it is very difficult to diagnose. Making things more challenging is the fact that its symptoms often mimic other cardiovascular diseases, thus leading physicians treating patients afflicted with the disease down the wrong treatment path. A study of the incidence of pericardial mesothelioma cited in the Texas Heart Institute Journal indicates that it occurs in less than ten percent of all mesothelioma cases. To get an idea of how rare the condition is, out of every million people only 15 to 30 will receive a pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis: to understand how difficult it is to diagnose, consider that the same study reported that three out of four cases are diagnosed on autopsy.
How Pericardial Mesothelioma is Diagnosed< As is true with all instances of malignant mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma advances very slowly. In this particular variation of the disease, the tumors develop in the outer lining of the organ, and may end up entirely encasing the cavity that holds the heart. It can also spread throughout the cardiovascular system, traveling through and infiltrating arteries and other structures that support the heart, as well as to the lungs and the lymph nodes. The symptoms that accompany its spread include difficulty breathing, chest pain, incessant coughing and wheezing, and other manifestations that can easily be mistaken for a chest cold, the flu, or even a cardiovascular event.
The presence of cancer in the pericardium is not generally diagnosed unless a physician orders advanced diagnostic imaging therapies such as magnetic resonance imaging. However, these orders frequently come only after other therapies have failed, allowing the disease to continue spreading along its deadly course. The longer the disease is permitted to progress without diagnosis, the more likely it is to impact other organs, and to become even more impactful.
Who Gets Pericardial Mesothelioma
Unlike other forms of malignant mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma has the distinction of not being caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos. This extremely rare condition has also been shown to occur in those who have a family history of the disease, as well as those who have been exposed to radiation or who have suffered from infections, poor diet, and conditions that weaken the immune system or cause inflammation. That does not exclude exposure to asbestos as a cause – it simply adds to it.
Treating Pericardial Mesothelioma
All types of malignant mesothelioma are considered fatal, but pericardial mesothelioma is particularly deadly because of its location in the body. Surgery presents an extreme risk, and is almost never performed without being part of a chemotherapy and radiation therapy regimen. This is in large part because it is nearly impossible to entirely remove mesothelioma tumors from the pericardium. This is in part due to the structure of the heart and the challenges presented by the physical location of the tumors, but also because pericardial mesothelioma has so often spread to other areas of the body, including the lung or lymph nodes. Of all of the treatment modalities, chemotherapy has proven to be most helpful in providing relief from the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma.
The Prognosis for Pericardial Mesothelioma
Though physicians treating malignant mesothelioma have been able to achieve some significant improvements in patient survival time, the condition remains fatal, and the average life expectancy ranges between eight months and 18 months after the time of diagnosis. Much of the difference in how much time a mesothelioma patient has left to them is dependent upon their overall health at the time of diagnosis, their age, their gender, and the cell type and variety of mesothelioma that they have. For those diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, this period is generally much shorter. Patients are encouraged to make treatment decisions that provide them with the best possible quality of life so that they can spend the remainder of their time enjoying the comfort of being with family and friends.
Legal Help for Those with Pericardial Mesothelioma
If you have been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma and believe that your condition was caused by exposure to asbestos, then call us today at 1-800-706-5606. You can set up a free consultation with one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys, who will guide you through all of your options. You can also receive a free Financial Compensation Booklet that will explain the details of the asbestos trust funds, which are currently valued at $30 billion. To learn whether you are eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit or to file a claim against the trust funds, contact us today.