Although pericardial mesothelioma is the least common of asbestos-related cancers, it may occur to those exposed to asbestos fibers. If you or a loved one is suffering from this disease, reading this article will help you understand its causes and consequences. And a mesothelioma lawyer at Nemeroff law firm can help you stand up for your rights against the corporate misconduct that caused your suffering.
Pericardial Mesothelioma: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Pericardial mesothelioma is a type of cancer that matures in the pericardium, the tissue that surrounds the heart. Studies show that 25 percent of cases regarding this disease originate with the exposure to asbestos, a microscopic fiber that can penetrate the mesothelium and damage its cell’s DNA. How asbestos fibers reach the heart is unknown, although typically they are ingested or inhaled, as in the case of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
The impact of this disease on cardiovascular function may include the development of fluid and the thickening of the surrounding layer of the heart. This causes many frustrating symptoms, some of which include the following:
- Difficulty breathing when active or at rest;
- Heart murmurs;
- Shortness of breath when lying down;
- Chest pain;
- Fever and night sweats;
- Irregular heartbeat, also called arrhythmia;
When the cancer initially develops, many patients often do not show any symptoms, leading to a late diagnosis.
Diagnosis of the Disease
Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis is often due to lack of symptoms in the early stages of the cancer and confusion with other common heart conditions, such as constrictive pericarditis or cardiac tamponade. To confirm a diagnosis the following methods are used:
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to evaluate how well the heart is working;
- CT scan, a test used to find the location of the tumor and to determine the stage of the disease; or
- Biopsy, a test that extracts a sample of cells to confirm or rule out the presence of the cancer.
With an early diagnosis, surgery can entirely cure this disease. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case; in fact, many cases of the disease are not discovered until an autopsy is performed. If not diagnosed in time, the prognosis is poor, with many patients surviving only six to ten months after diagnosis.
Treatment of the Disease
Treating the disease is difficult. The affected area lies very close to the heart, making any approach a possible threat to this organ. Nevertheless, the patient may undergo one or more of the following treatments:
- Pericardiectomy, the removal of the pericardium with consequent reconstruction of the area with artificial materials. For this procedure, the tumor must be particularly small and the individual must be healthy enough to recover;
- Pericardiocentesis, a procedure that relieves pressure caused by pericardial effusions, one of the symptoms of this disease;
- Chemotherapy, which can slow the growth of the tumor and increase prognosis;
The most effective of these treatments is often surgery, as it removes the cancer completely. Unfortunately, many patients are not healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Even those who could withstand the procedure may be ineligible due to the size of the tumor.
Exposure to asbestos is a common cause of the various forms of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one are suffering from pericardial mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover lost wages, treatment, or pain and suffering. Call an expert pericardial mesothelioma lawyer at Nemeroff Law Firm or fill in your information on our website for a free and confidential mesothelioma case evaluation. We will provide you with the right lawyer to stand up for your rights as a victim of this disease.