is the rarest form of this asbestos-related cancer. This form of cancer affects the lining that surrounds the heart, and is associated with long term exposure to asbestos fibres.
The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma, as with other types of mesothelioma, can take decades to manifest. If a person worked with asbestos twenty or thirty years ago and shows no symptoms, that does not mean that they have the all clear. The symptoms typically take around twenty or thirty years to manifest anyway, sometimes even longer.
This means that the cancer is usually too advanced to treat effectively by the time it is diagnosed. It is always advisable that people who have worked with asbestos on a frequent basis in the past inform their doctors. Although nothing can be done to speed up the onset of symptoms in order to catch the disease in time to treat, any further delay in diagnosis can be alleviated by making your doctor aware of all the facts so that a speedy diagnosis can be made if the symptoms to manifest.
There are several main symptoms to look out for with pericardial mesothelioma. These include: persistent coughing; shortness of breath; chest pain; palpitations. Anyone that has worked with asbestos and experiences any or all of these symptoms should seek medical advice immediately.
Once your doctor has made a diagnosis, it is important to assess the extent to which the disease has spread and to what degree it has advanced. This is usually determined by imaging. A CT Scan or MRI Scan can normally reveal what stage the disease is at, and this will help to determine what sort of treatment can be considered. The patient’s age, medical condition, and past medical history will also be taken into account when deciding upon a course of treatment.
Pericardial mesothelioma can occasionally be treated with surgery. However, the nature of this cancer means that it is very advanced by the time that it is diagnosed and this often means that surgery for this particular type of mesothelioma has to be ruled out. Even if surgery is performed, it is unlikely that all of the tumour or cells can be removed or treated, hence further treatment of radiation or chemotherapy (known as systemic treatments) is needed afterwards anyway.
The two most common forms of treatment for pericardial mesothelioma are radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is the most commonly used of the two procedures for this type of mesothelioma, and the one that has proven most successful with pericardial mesothelioma patients to date. However, both types of treatment must be carefully monitored due to the risk they pose to healthy cells as well as affected ones.
Another low risk procedure often used simply to relieve symptoms is a ‘fine needle aspiration.’ This is where a needle is inserted into the chest cavity in order to drain off excess fluid build up caused by the cancer. This can often relieve some of the symptoms of the disease.
Clinical trials into all types of mesothelioma are still being continued all over the country and all over the world. Many patients find that it helps to be a part of a clinical trial as it gives them a chance to try a new form of treatment that could be effective, as well as giving them hope and making them feel more positive. And it is through this type of positive attitude along with the hard work of the professionals that, one day, a cure for all types of mesothelioma at all stages could be discovered.