What is Pericardial Mesothelioma?
Malignant pericardial mesothelioma is a lethal type of cancer that initially affects the thin membrane around the heart. The tumor(s) of the disease form in the membrane , either in the peritoneum or pleura. This cancer is rare; it accounts for just one percent of all malignant mesothelioma diagnosis. Men are more vulnerable to malignant pericardial mesothelioma, their susceptibility being two times higher than females’. People aged between 50 to 70 years have the highest risk of the cancer.
A person who is suffering from malignant pericardial mesothelioma experiences symptoms similar to those of chest or heart issues. Mostly, the primary symptoms comprise:
Body weight loss
Persistent, acute cough
Fast-beating, trembling or pounding heart.
General body weakness
Abnormal sweating at night
Swollen arms or face
Don’t hesitate to seek the doctor’s attention if you experience some or all of the above symptoms for early diagnosis and treatment. Talking of diagnosis, let’s now look at how malignant pericardial mesothelioma is detected.
As earlier mentioned, the symptoms of the pericardial mesothelioma are likely to be confused with those of other health problems, especially heart and chest-related. As a result, it is a bit hard for your doctor to establish immediately that you are suffering from the cancer.
Once your doctor suspects that you might be having the mesothelioma, he or she will start its diagnosis with a physical examination on you and then ask you several things about your health history. Most likely, the health expert will want to know if you have ever had an exposure to asbestos as they are highly linked to the illness.
If the doctor still suspects that you might be having the cancer from the physical examination and your health history information, you may be prescribed to undergo various tests including:
This test involves the examination of the patient’s heart by the use of sound waves to establish the functionality of the heart and find out if the heart is surrounded by pericardial effusion, a suggestion of malignant pericardial mesothelioma.
Magnetic resonance imaging, X-ray or CT scan
The three tests are mostly done to detect tumors and find out the areas affected by the cancer. Nevertheless, these tests can’t be relied upon solely to establish the presence of the cancer as their results have insufficient necessary details.
Pericardiocentesis involves the extraction of fluid from the sac surrounding the heart to establish if it has cancer cells.
In pericardioscopy, the skin over the patient’s heart is cut slightly and the doctor inserts a special camera into the cut to view the tissues around the heart. The health expert might also extract samples of the tissue to establish if they are affected by the cancer. The test also comes in handy in finding out the extent to which the cancer has spread.
Exposure to asbestos is the only factor that researchers have proved to cause the pericardial mesothelioma. The more you are exposed to asbestos, the more you are likely to get the cancer.
Asbestos have microscopic fibers which get released to the atmosphere if disturbed. If you inhale the fibers, they get trapped in the mesothelium of different organs, particularly the pericardial layers of your heart. The trapped fibers cause irritation to the layers and make them become inflamed. Ultimately, the nearby healthy body cells experience genetic mutations which cause the growth of mesothelial cells. The cells grow rapidly and cluster together, forming cancerous tumors.
Regardless of its severity, malignant pericardial mesothelioma has standard treatment methods which are offered by a multidisciplinary team of doctors. The treatment approaches include:
Pericardiectomy is the standard surgical treatment for malignant pericardial mesothelioma. The surgery involves the removal of the unhealthy pericardium as well as all noticeable tumors in the heart lining.
Once a pericardial mesothelioma patient has undergone pericardiectomy, the doctor will recommend a chemotherapy course of treatment. Gemcitabine is the most used and effective chemo treatment for patients suffering from malignant pericardial mesothelioma. The chemotherapy drug works by shrinking cancerous tumors and slowing/stopping the growth of the mesothelioma cells.
Palliative treatments include medicines and medical care given to a pericardial mesothelioma patient to improve his or her comfort and reduce the severity of the symptoms without dealing with their cause.
Malignant pericardial mesothelioma is a type of cancer that goes unnoticed for a long time, mostly causing death before it is detected. Therefore, it is important that you avoid things that might cause it, especially exposure to asbestos. Besides, you should seek a doctor’s attention as soon as you suspect you have it.