Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest of the three forms of mesothelioma. It is estimated that pericardial mesothelioma accounts for approximately one percent to five percent of all cases of the disease. In fact, only about 150 cases have ever been documented and only 200 cases have ever been reported throughout the world. Even so, over 50 percent of pericardial tumors are due to pericardial mesothelioma.

The pericardial mesothelium, or pericardium, is a layer of tissue that surrounds the heart. It is also commonly referred to as the heart sac. The pericardium protects the heart and provides a slippery surface against which the heart can beat without becoming irritated or irritating the surrounding tissue. When the cells that comprise the pericardium grow with an abnormal shape or rate, and reproduce more abnormal cells, it is often the result of pericardial mesothelioma. As the disease progresses, it can expand to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, eventually causing death.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Causes

The primary cause of pericardial mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. However, the disease may not become apparent for up to 40 years after you have first been exposed. Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been mined from the Earth for hundreds of years. In the 20th century, new commercial and industrial applications put asbestos in high demand, and it was used extensively as insulation against heat and electricity and as a component in construction materials. By the 1940s, asbestos-related illnesses had already been documented, but a total ban on the material did not occur until the 1990s. Because pericardial mesothelioma has a long latency period and asbestos already exists in many buildings, new cases continue to be diagnosed every year.

Doctors are not sure exactly how asbestos causes pericardial mesothelioma or how asbestos fibers reach the pericardium. One theory is that when airborne fibers are inhaled, the circulatory system transports them to the pericardium, and they become lodged in the tissue. In addition, other forms of mesothelioma, especially pleural mesothelioma, begin elsewhere in the body and subsequently spread to the pericardium.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you are experiencing adverse symptoms and you have a history of exposure to asbestos, it is recommended that you have a physical checkup performed as soon as possible. One major problem with early diagnosis is that pericardial mesothelioma symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other, less serious, diseases, such as the common cold. However, early detection of pericardial mesothelioma is of the utmost urgency if you want to receive the most effective treatment.

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not be apparent at the onset of the disease. Mesothelioma may not begin until decades after exposure to asbestos, and symptoms may not appear until after the disease has progressed to its final stages. If you are suffering from pericardial mesothelioma, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac tamponade – the accumulation of blood inside the heart sac
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sweating

Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosis

While the diagnosis process may require several procedures, including surgery, it is important that pericardial mesothelioma be diagnosed as soon as possible.. Initial diagnostic tools for pericardial mesothelioma include an analysis of your work history and previous medical history, a physical examination, and general chest X-rays. Your work history and medical history are integral parts of the diagnosis because known exposure to asbestos or other asbestos-related illnesses will prompt your doctor to perform more specific tests. The chest X-rays can also show if plaque, fluid buildup, or other abnormal growths are present.

If the initial diagnostic tools give your doctor a reason for concern, he or she may order further imaging tests and will most likely refer you to a specialist. Going to an experienced team of mesothelioma specialists will help to ensure a speedy and accurate diagnosis. Among the first of the tests you will undergo are additional imaging procedures. These may include a CT scan, an MRI, or both. CT scans are able to detect tumors around the heart in about 50 percent of cases. An MRI is useful in detecting any swelling of the pericardium and any unusual properties of nearby arteries.

Imaging techniques alone will not provide your doctors with enough information for a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma. If the scans produce results, further tests will be administered. The first of these additional tests is usually a biopsy. A biopsy is the study of a sample of your pericardium and any fluids present in your pericardium. The initial tissue samples will most likely be extracted through a specialized needle instead of through surgery. However, surgery will be required if more substantial amounts of tissue have to be extracted. The sample is then sent to a medical lab for a complete analysis.

Another diagnostic technique that can be used is a thoracoscopy. This technique involves the insertion of a thin, hollow tube with a light and camera attached to the end into your thoracic cavity. It provides your doctor with a first-hand look at your pericardium.

It is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win or settle your case!


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