You've probably heard of mesothelioma, and know if it's link to asbestos exposure. You may not be aware that mesothelioma can develop in different areas of the body, and this can affect its prognosis and treatment. One specific type of this cancer is pericardial mesothelioma. While it is ultimately the rarest form of the disease, it also often the most deadly. If you're like to learn more about pericardial mesothelioma, and the details pertaining to the disease, read on.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
As noted above, pericardial mesothelioma is the least common type of this cancer. More commonly, the disease manifests itself in the pleural cavity – that is, around the lung. The pericardial cavity, or “heart sac” is what holds the heart, and that's where pericardial mesothelioma develops, hence the name. Mesothelium is the name of the membrane that makes up these cavities, and it is the part of the body that is responsible for helping your organs to flex and move in unison with each other. Specifically, the pericardial mesothelium exists so that other organs do not restrict the heart as it beats.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosis
As the most rare form of the disease, only about 5% of the diagnoses cases are pericardial mesothelioma. Generally, it occurs in people who have been exposed to asbestos when they were younger – it can take 20 to 40 years to actually manifest. Unfortunately, this type of the cancer is especially difficult for doctors to diagnose. Part of the reason it is more dangerous than other types of the cancer is that pericardial mesothelioma is rarely diagnoses in its early stages. Symptoms of the disease include the following: general malaise, swelling of the arms and fingers, night sweats, mild chest pains, and frequent coughing. Unfortunately, the symptoms do not often present together, and thus are easily confused for other diseases.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Treatment
In order for a doctor to make a full and conclusive diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma, multiple advanced tests must be run, including MRIs. These tests can usually detect the growth in the heart sac, and then a biopsy will confirm the cancer. Once the disease is diagnosed, the outlook is rarely good. Most people who develop this type of the cancer die with 12 months. Unfortunately, the treatments that can often prolong the life of mesothelioma victims may not work for this version of the disease. This is primarily because the tumors develop so close to the heart, making surgery to remove pericardial mesothelioma exceedingly difficult.