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Pericardial Cancer from Asbestos Exposure

Pericardial cancer caused by asbestos exposure is one of causes of heart palpitations symptoms. Read a brief discussion about this type of inflammation of the lining of the heart disease in this article.

About pericardial mesothelioma
Pericardial cancer caused by asbestos exposure is a deadly cancer causing carcinogen and the rarest manifestation of mesothelioma metastatic tumor that accounts for roughly 5% of all mesothelioma cases. It is an inflammation of the lining of the heart in which threatening malignancy cells develop on protective membrane that surrounds the heart.

The pericardium has a very crucial function as it secures the heart from any harm. As a result of the criticalness of the area on which the pericardial cancer develops, pericardial mesothelioma is considered a terminal ailment as well as pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Without proper and in time treatment in its early stages of diagnosis, it can turn into a life-threatening disease with an extremely low survival rate. Thus, anyone who is suspected with this pericardial cancer must look for specialized medical attention as soon as possible.

Cause of pericardial mesothelioma
The primary cause of pericardial mesothelioma is exposure to dust and fibres from the asbestos. Without proper protection, these life-threatening dust and fibres from asbestos are breathed in and get deposited in the lungs. From the lungs, the asbestos fibres can either travel into the lymphatic system and get transmitted to the lining of the heart or they may just go through to the heart after some time. Long time exposure of asbestos will result in the built up of large amount of fibres in and inflammation of the lining of the heart leading to the manifestation of pericardial cancer from asbestos.

Risk of pericardial mesothelioma
People who have worked with asbestos perpetually for some time (as short as a couple of months) without proper protection, including construction workers and individuals who work in asbestos industry, are almost always have sniffed these toxic fibres and undergone asbestos poisoning. People who interact with them are likewise at danger of getting pericardial mesothelioma because of the fact that asbestos fibres can attach to clothes and hair easily.

People who live in such environment should wear proper protective mask to minimize the inspiration of asbestos dust into the lungs and prevent asbestos poisoning. Since asbestos is still existed in numerous public buildings, the danger of pericardial cancer caused by asbestos exposure is still present, even though for most, quite impossible.

Amount of asbestos exposure
The amount and degree of asbestos exposure that may cause asbestos poisoning and lead to pericardial mesothelioma is varied from person to person, depending on how robust and immune the individual is to disease and on the density of the asbestos dust and fibres that exposed to him or her. Exposure to asbestos as slight as a couple of months can cause pericardial mesothelioma, despite the fact that much of the time it required many years for plenty asbestos fibres to build up to cause inflammation of the lining of the heart and lead to malignancy tumor.

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma
The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma from asbestos poisoning differ from patient to patient. Normal indications of pericardial mesothelioma are persistent coughing, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain and heart palpitations. Other symptoms typical to all types of mesothelioma are weight loss, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Any individual who encounters these symptoms should look for specialized medical help promptly.

The issue with pericardial mesothelioma is that most of the time its symptoms become obvious only after the malignancy tumor has developed and is in its late stages, making it even more difficult to treat. Another issue is that in the early stages, the symptoms are the same as a lot of other common ailments, for example pneumonia (shortness of breath), and this has a tendency to cause improper treatment being given to individuals suffering pericardial cancer from asbestos exposure and the right treatments are administered too late due to the delay in diagnosis.

Latency period of pericardial mesothelioma
All manifestations of mesothelioma including inflammation of the lining of the heart have a phenomenally long latency period (time it takes for the symptoms to appear after having a disease). The latency period is between 30 to 50 years. Consequently, it is difficult to identify when the malignancy has not advanced and developed totally. Generally mesothelioma patients are elderly men aged between 60 to 70 because this was the generation that worked with asbestos with minimum protection from its dust and fibres. Most of them often have had pericardial mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure for long a time without acknowledging it.

Prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma
This is highly reliant on how soon and how aggressively the malignancy tumor is treated. Assuming that pericardial mesothelioma is treated when it has advanced and developed totally then the mesothelioma survival rate is exceptionally low. The prognosis could be just a few months.

Research for pericardial mesothelioma
Currently, research into pericardial cancer from asbestos exposure and all different types of mesothelioma seems to be led in various research labs in the USA. Many pharmaceutical associations are trying hard to research new medications for chemotherapy too. Thus far, none of the studies has been successful, but researchers expect that new medications will soon be found.

Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma
There are many distinctive treatments for pericardial cancer caused by asbestos exposure, but all available treatment options have low success rate. The best chances to survive from pericardial mesothelioma are to detect and treat pericardial mesothelioma aggressively as fast as possible. Treatment methods include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, dual therapy and surgery.

Chemotherapy utilizes medications to destroy malignancy cells. Unfortunately, the successful rate of this method of treatment is very low.

Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy utilizes substantial amount of radiation to destroy malignancy cells on the pericardium. However, this is not an easy or ideal treatment too. This is because the pericardium is surrounded by vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Hence, any large amount of radiation applied to the pericardium area will almost always damage those vital organs too.

Surgery comes in two different forms; aggressive surgery and palliative procedures.

  1. Aggressive surgery is a complicated procedure to remove large chunks of cancerous cells from the pericardium in order to control the cancer on the long run. This procedure can only be performed by a very experienced surgeon as the cancer cells are often located very close to the heart and lungs. Any small mistake can be fatal. Moreover, it is only used on stronger or fitter patients such as young and healthy men.
  2. Palliative procedures are applied for patients in the latest stages of pericardial mesothelioma. The only objective from such procedures is to lessen the symptoms for the patient since the cancer is considered incurable at this stage.

Dual therapy
Dual therapy is a treatment combining the three methods. Cancerous cells are removed by means of surgery, and then the remaining cells are killed off by radiation and chemotherapy. Although it's still risky, dual therapy has shown to give a higher success rate than using the three methods alone. A patient will first need a doctor's evaluation to determine which treatment option is the best for him.

Lastly, always seek specialized help from medical advisors immediately when you suspect any sign of pericardial cancer from asbestos exposure.

Disclaimer: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.