Those who were exposed to a naturally-occurring but caustic mineral known as asbestos may be at increased risks of developing numerous illnesses. One such health malady is pericardial mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is rare form of cancer. The medical community has broken this disease into four subcategories based upon the bodily region said malignancy takes hold in, pleural, peritoneal, testicular and pericardial. Scientific researchers opine that almost every mesothelioma case can be traced back to asbestos exposure.
Prior to public knowledge of the potentially harmful effects asbestos exposure can produce, the substance enjoyed widespread usage in many industries for its capacity to withstand excessive heat and prevent the spread of fire. However, in more recent times, medical studies have correlated asbestos exposure to potential lung damage and the occurrence of mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Overview
This malignancy develops and ultimately accumulates in the pericardium, which is the tissue surrounding the heart. Researchers suggest that this form mesothelioma is by far the rarest, impacting only one to two percent of known causes of the cancer.
Almost invariably, this ailment is directly traced back to the stricken individual’s level of asbestos exposure. The fibers contained in asbestos permeate the air and are breathed in by those readily exposed to them. Over time, these toxic particles accumulate inside the pericardium. Ultimately, the damage caused to associated cells and tissues become malignant and spread throughout the region.
Persons employed in long-standing careers in the construction or manufacturing industries are at an increased risk of developing this potentially fatal malady. Asbestos was primarily found in products like home insulation products, pipe fitting materials and a host of other products.
Unfortunately, the malignancy grows at a slow rate, which often means that afflicted persons do not notice any significant physical manifestations until the disease has progressed to more advanced stages.
Initial symptoms of the disease include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, coughing and difficulty engage in physical activity. However, as the illness progresses, malignant tumors expand and thicken the membrane around the heart, more severe symptoms might arise and include cardiac tamponade (compression of heart fluid), pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium, night sweats, decreased appetite and pronounced weight loss. In the most extreme or advanced cases, heart failure could develop.
Due to the rarity of the illness and difficulty surrounding the location of malignancy, diagnosis is considered difficult. That said, diagnosis can be confirmed through by employing common diagnostic tools such as chest X-Rays and Computerized Tomography (CT) scans. These images might capture red flags like fluid collecting around the heart or the presence of tumors in or surrounding the pericardium. In some instances, blood tests might be performed that could confirm the presence of other malignancies.
Typically, however, biopsies are typically needed to definitively confirm said diagnosis. During this procedure, a physician extracts a small portion of pericardial tissue and offers said sample microscopic examination. Though the disease can be diagnosed in an early stage, most cases are not diagnosed until the disease process has spread well beyond the pericardium to surround ding lymph nodes or other organs.
Potential Treatment Options
The specific remedial protocol initiated by an afflicted individual’s physician or team of doctors will greatly depend upon several factors such as the patient’s age, said person’s general health, in addition to the stage and severity of the malignancy. That said, specific forms of treatment include:
Two common types of surgical procedures might be employed. One is pericardiectomy, in which malignant sections of the patient’s pericardium are removed. The other is pericardiocentesis where surgeons alleviate the fluid buildup surrounding the heart.
Afflicted persons are administered drugs designed to kill cancer cells.
Radio waves are applied to malignant tissues.
- Combination Therapy
Typically, cases are complicated are necessitate a combination of several or all known therapeutic protocols.
Unfortunately, the prognosis is not all that encouraging. A solid percentage of individuals succumb within six months following diagnosis. The survival rate for one year following diagnosis is only 51 percent. The three-year survival rate is 26 percent. Typically, only 23 percent of those with the illness live for five years or more following diagnosis.
Additional Health-Boosting Methods Stricken Individuals Can Employ
In addition to obtaining as prompt a diagnosis as possible and initiating aggressive treatment, pericardial mesothelioma patients might enjoy a better quality of life by obtaining adequate amounts of sleep, consuming a healthy, nutritious diet and eliminating potentially detrimental vices like cigarette smoking.