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Pericardial Mesothelioma Lawyers
As a rare form of malignant mesothelioma, the pericardial variety of the cancer represents approximately 5% of all mesothelioma cases. Named for the location where it forms (the pericardium is the membrane that surrounds the heart), pericardial tumors are known to spread over the surface of the heart, the superior vena cava, the root of the aorta, and the pulmonary trunk.
Mesothelioma itself is a rare cancer, and especially the rare varieties of the disease have had less research performed on them. Therefore, treatments for this form of the disease are not as extensive as those for pleural mesothelioma. Specialist care is necessary for anyone diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma.
When you come to our firm, our pericardial mesothelioma attorneys can recommend a medical professional experienced with this disease.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Pericardial Mesothelioma
In patients with pericardial mesothelioma, the formation of cancerous tumors within the pericardium can cause tissue thickening and the buildup of fluid. If either become too numerous, the heart’s function may be threatened. Patients with pericardial mesothelioma usually present to their physician complaining of significant chest pain or other cardiac symptoms that occur following minimal physical exertion.
Symptoms associated with pericardial mesothelioma may include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
The condition can also cause a serious condition called cardiac tamponade that can be fatal if not treated quickly. When the buildup of fluid around the heart becomes major enough to put pressure on the organ, the heart may fail to fill properly, resulting in a drastic drop in blood pressure. This condition can build up slowly or have a rapid onset.
Symptoms of cardiac tamponade include:
- Shortness of breath
Any pericardial mesothelioma patient who experiences these symptoms should seek emergency care. Fluid can be drained out of the pericardium so the heart can return to its normal functioning.
How is Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Diagnosing this type of tumor presents a challenge because the symptoms the patient experiences, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, persistent coughing, and fatigue, are similar to what patients with other cardiac conditions experience. Therefore, anyone who is experiencing symptoms that could be related should tell their doctor about any past asbestos exposure.
The tests used to diagnose pericardial mesothelioma include echocardiogram, MRI scan, or CT scan to search for an unusual mass around the heart. Echocardiograms involve the use of ultrasound to map out the heart’s wall and cardiac chambers. If a tumor is detected, an MRI may be ordered to inform the doctor on the chemical makeup of the tumor, which can be used to identify it.
Tumors in the pericardium may be caused by the metastasis of pleural mesothelioma, meaning doctors will often test for both at the same time. MRI can help a doctor find the edge of the tumor and estimate where it originated. Additionally, surgical exploration may be used to determine how far the tumor has spread.
It is known pericardial mesothelioma can spread to the lungs, resulting in secondary lung cancer; however, very little research has been conducted on the matter because of its extreme rarity.
Prognosis & Treatment Options for Pericardial Mesothelioma
There is no cure for pericardial mesothelioma, so all treatments are ultimately palliative—intended to alleviate symptoms and perhaps increase a patient’s life expectancy. Though surgical intervention may be possible with earlier-stage tumors, most patients will only undergo procedures to help drain the fluid that builds up within the pericardium.
With little to no benefit from radiation and chemotherapy (and the potential for a decline in quality of life), the prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma is poor. 50% of patients live for about six months, though surgery can help extend life expectancy.
Role of Asbestos in the Development of Pericardial Mesothelioma
It is well accepted that inhalation of asbestos fibers causes pleural mesothelioma; however, asbestos’ links to the development of pericardial mesothelioma are not as well understood. While it’s easy to see how asbestos fibers may pass to the pleura after being inhaled, some physicians and researchers hypothesize that asbestos fibers can be broken down enough to enter the bloodstream. As they are pumped through the heart, the fibers get trapped in the pericardium.
The body is not able to remove asbestos fibers from the mesothelium, and over a long time, they induce changes within the pericardial cells that may result in the initiation of cancerous growth. Uncontrolled growth of the cancerous cells leads to the thickening of the pericardium and, eventually, the formation of tumors. This thickening that occurs within the pericardium, along with an increase in fluid accumulation between the pericardial layers, eventually affects heart function.
Pericardial mesothelioma may metastasize to the lymph nodes and other organs. Sadly, sometimes patients are not diagnosed until posthumous autopsies reveal the cancerous growths.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Attorneys
When dealing with such an aggressive form of cancer, you need an attorney who is willing to do whatever they can to fight for you and your family. The team at Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. is dedicated to serving our clients in any way possible. Not only do we want to help you access the treatment you need; we also want to make sure you and your family are provided for during this time.
If you are diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, it’s almost certainly because of asbestos exposure. That means you should talk to an attorney. Even if you can’t remember how or when you were exposed, we may be able to learn more through our practiced investigative measures. Then, we can let you know about your legal options and help you pursue the path you choose.
A mesothelioma diagnosis is scary for a patient and their family. During such a time, we want you to know you are not alone. Our team has served thousands of mesothelioma patients across the U.S. and we are here to help you, too.
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