Pericardial Mesothelioma: A Rare and Deadly form of the Disease
Mesothelioma is not a commonly known disease, but anyone familiar with it knows that it is a specific type of cancer that is incurred due to asbestos exposure. It develops in the lining (or mesothelium) of a variety of organs throughout the body. It most commonly affects the lining of the lungs (the pleura) and, in some cases, the peritoneal lining of the abdominal cavity. In rare cases, mesothelioma can show up in the lining of the heart (pericardium).
Pericardial mesothelioma, however, is exceedingly rare, affecting only one percent of all mesothelioma sufferers. That said, it’s one of the deadlier forms of the cancer. It’s also not easy to diagnose. A 1994 study by the Texas Heart Institute Journal looked at 28 patients who had been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma from 1972 to 1992. What they discovered is that pericardial mesothelioma was accurately identified with an echocardiogram in a mere 12 percent of cases. For the other 88% of patients, proper care and treatment were effectively postponed.
But, why is it so hard to detect this rare form of mesothelioma? For starters, the disease is unusual among most cancers in that it envelops the affected organ (in this case, the heart). Most tumors are easier to spot because an X-ray will show a distinct lump or bulge connected to the wall of an organ. With pericardial mesothelioma, however, the disease simply makes the heart look larger, making it exceptionally hard to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Several symptoms made the patients studied by the Texas Heart Institute seek medical help. The most common reason why patients went to a doctor was dyspnea (or shortness of breath). In fact, 46% of patients cited it as the primary factor for seeking medical treatment. Thirty-two percent of those studied reported both fever and pain in the chest area as the primary motivation for seeking help. The last major symptom was a sudden and unexplained loss of weight, affecting 21% of patients.
There’s no question that mesothelioma is a disease no one wants to have. A diagnosis can leave patients feeling bewildered and lost. Whether they were exposed to asbestos through work or they knew someone who worked with the carcinogenic fiber, most patients diagnosed with the disease are given a prognosis of just six months. With pericardial mesothelioma, that prognosis dwindles down to a mere three and a half months.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and merciless cancer that can send shockwaves through your life. It’s important to remember that, for many sufferers of this disease, the amount of time they have left is limited. We offer sincere condolences to all who have been affected by this pernicious illness, whether firsthand or through a friend or family member.
If the mesothelioma you or a loved one has incurred was caused by exposure to asbestos, then legal action may be possible. Asbestos manufacturers can be held responsible for the occurrence of the disease. While legal action might not bring a loved one back, it can offer some solace after an unfortunate ordeal with mesothelioma.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call or email us for a free consultation.