Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
The most common presenting symptom of pericardial mesothelioma is a buildup of fluid associated with cancer growth. As the asbestos cancer grows throughout the pericardium, it causes an expansion of said tissue, creating a space into which serous fluid can accumulate. The accumulation of such fluid often results in chronic chest pain and can cause heart-function irregularities, such as heart palpitations.
There are a number of additional pericardial mesothelioma symptoms that can alert a sufferer as to the onset of the rare asbestos disease:
- Chronic cough
- Abnormal breathing (dyspnea)
- Chest pain
People exhibiting any of the aforementioned pericardial mesothelioma symptoms over an elongated period of time should consult with a medical professional. The earlier a case of pericardial mesothelioma is diagnosed, the greater the number of treatment options a mesothelioma specialist will have through which to combat the disease.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The average post-diagnostic survival time for malignant mesothelioma sufferers is between one and two years. This brief survival time is associated with the fact that malignant mesothelioma is a latent disease that often takes 30- to 40-years to fully develop and become symptomatic; all the while, the asbestos disease is slowly growing and spreading.
Imaging scans (x-ray, MRI, CT scan, PET scan) are often used as the first diagnostic tool. While such tests can provide an initial diagnosis, they only serve as an indicator as to what the problem is. In order to definitively diagnose a case of malignant mesothelioma, a biopsy is required. A small section of suspect tissue is removed for examination by a histopathologist, an expert in the study of diseased tissue. The histopathologist can not only diagnose a case of pericardial mesothelioma, but can also go so far as to stage the disease, recommend treatment options and classify the cancer histologically.
There are three histological classes of malignant mesothelioma: epithelioid mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and biphasic mesothelioma. While epithelioid and sarcomatoid mesothelioma present a unique cellular structure, biphasic mesothelioma is simply a combination of the two.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Treatments
Although there are a number of pericardial mesothelioma treatments that are used to combat the rarest of mesotheliomas, none have proven capable of yielding anything more than a brief extension of life.
The traditional methods of treatment include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Used individually, the traditional mesothelioma treatments have little-to-no impact on the disease; however, when used in conjunction with one another, they have proven capable of slowing disease progression.
New pericardial mesothelioma treatments are continuously being researched and developed with the hope that they will one day be capable of acting as a curative treatment. Some of the newer modalities include intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and the research and development of new mesothelioma drugs (like Alimta, Veglin and Onconase).