Mesothelioma is a cancer of the epithelium that lines the lungs, the abdomen, or the heart. Pericardial Mesothelioma is the cancer of the lining of the heart, known as the pericardium, hence the name pericardial mesothelioma.
This rare form of mesothelioma accounts for small percentage of all cases, roughly 5%. The pericardium has an extrememly important role as it protects the heart from any damage. Should an individual become afflicted with this cancer, they should take it very seriously and seek specialized medical attention. If left untreated during the early stages of diagnosis, it can become a terminal illness with a very low survival rate.
As with all forms of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos. Those who are most at risk are construction workers and asbestos manufacturers. The wearing of a protective mask can help to minimize the inhalation of asbestos dust in to the lungs (since the asbestos fibres get lodged in the lungs). If you have noticed, the majority of workers aren’t properly protected when working on construction sites – even in industrialized nations such as the United States. One would expect to see otherwise, thinking that companies follow OSHA directives. That isn’t the case all the time.
During the middle of the 20th century (roughly between 1950-1970) asbestos was one of the most popular building materials, and scores of young men were exposed to it. Now, in the 21st century (some 50 years later – the latency period of pericardial mesothelioma), these young men who are now over 60 years of age are beginning to exhibit the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma. As a result, multi-million dollar lawsuits are being filed against the companies that employed them.
The problem with pericardial mesothelioma is that its symptoms only start appearing in the cancer’s latest stages, making it even more difficult to treat. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pains and a persistent cough. Other symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include nausea, weight loss and loss of appetite. Another problem with these symptoms is that they are similar to those of pneumonia (shortness of breath), and this tends to lead to the wrong treatment being administered to an individual afflicted with pericardial mesothelioma.
Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and dual therapy. The survival rate is extremely low, and it is important to stress that one’s chances of healing are increased should treatment commence in the early stages of diagnosis.