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What is Pericardial Mesothelioma?


An individual exposed to asbestos is vulnerable to several different types of mesothelioma. One type that gets little attention due to its rarity is pericardial mesothelioma. Since mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, those with pericardial mesothelioma are at an even higher disadvantage when it comes to awareness, research, and treatment.

Pericardial mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer in the lining of the heart. Asbestos, a natural mineral, is the only known cause. Unlike pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma, scientists are still not sure how asbestos fibers reach the lining of the heart. Like most types of mesothelioma, a patient with pericardial mesothelioma often receives a poor prognosis. Due to its rarity, the poor prognosis is often exacerbated by a late diagnosis. However, some treatments are available, including chemotherapy.

Different Forms of Mesothelioma

Other types of mesothelioma include:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of a patient’s lungs. It is generally caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. It is considered the most common type of mesothelioma.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. It is generally caused by ingesting asbestos fibers. It is the second most common type of mesothelioma.
  • Testicular Mesothelioma: Testicular mesothelioma affects the membrane lining of the testes. It is one of the rarer types of mesothelioma, accounting for only five percent of all cases.

What are the Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma?

Since pericardial mesothelioma affects a different part of the body, patients often experience different symptoms. Some symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent, dry coughing
  • Fever
  • Heart failure
  • Swelling of the lower limbs

Pericardial mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are closely linked to other conditions. The listed symptoms are typically caused by the thickening of the pericardium, which happens in other illnesses. A late diagnosis can make a big difference in a patient’s prognosis; therefore, awareness of pericardial mesothelioma symptoms is crucial to an early diagnosis.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose Pericardial Mesothelioma?

Doctors may take several different routes to diagnose someone with pericardial mesothelioma. A doctor may diagnose a patient by performing an ultrasound in the heart, which is called an echocardiogram. This test looks at the pericardium and determines whether there is a buildup of fluid in the pericardium. This is indicative of pericardial mesothelioma.

Patients may also need to do radionuclide imaging. In order to examine the results of this test, the patient must first receive an injection of a radioactive element. Through an imaging technology, the doctor can determine where the tumors are located in the body.

A doctor may diagnose a patient with pericardial mesothelioma by taking a biopsy of the pericardium. After the doctor removes a bit of tissue from the pericardium, they will look at it under a microscope to determine whether the patient has abnormal cells. If so, this can indicate that they have pericardial mesothelioma.

Using the latest medical technology to diagnose a patient is critical; however, it is also important for the patient to provide their medical and job history. If the patient worked in a field that is often exposed to asbestos, it could help a doctor determine the actual diagnosis. Also, a doctor may diagnose a patient with pericardial mesothelioma if they have already been diagnosed with another type of mesothelioma, like pleural or peritoneal.

How is Pericardial Mesothelioma Treated?

Some treatment options available for patients include:

Pericardiectomy: Pericardiectomy is a surgical procedure that aims to remove some or all of the patient’s pericardium. In pericardial mesothelioma patients, their mesothelial membrane in the pericardium becomes irritated by the growing tumors. The surgery offers a solution by removing the irritated part of the pericardium. Ultimately, the surgery helps to improve symptoms and prevents fluids from building. In order to restore the pericardium after surgery, the surgeon will reconstruct a membrane by using artificial materials.

Pericardiocentesis: Pericardiocentesis is a treatment for someone experiencing pressure from the fluids in the pericardium. The treatment aims to relieve this pressure by locating the fluid, inserting a needle into the tissue, inserting a catheter, and draining the fluid.

Chemotherapy: The most common treatment option for mesothelioma is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a treatment that helps to slow down the growth of the pericardial tumors through powerful drugs. This treatment aims to extend a patient’s lifespan and alleviate symptoms related to the illness. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other drugs, like gemcitabine, cisplatin, and vinorelbine, to create a special regimen for patients.

What Should I Do After I am Diagnosed with Pericardial Mesothelioma?

After facing a pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis, an individual may wonder what steps to take next in order to ensure legal justice. Mesothelioma places a financial and emotional burden on a patient and their family. Many patients are forced to deal with expensive medical treatments, lost wages, and emotional turmoil. Contacting a lawyer and taking legal action against liable parties can help alleviate burdens. A family can also file a lawsuit to gain compensation from their loved one’s death.

Most mesothelioma patients faced asbestos exposure while at work. Asbestos fibers in buildings can lead to mesothelioma. The latent effects of mesothelioma means that a patient might not receive a diagnosis for several decades after exposure, however, guilty parties can still be held liable for a patient’s diagnosis.

Why is it Beneficial to Hire a Lawyer?

After receiving a diagnosis, the patient should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can help determine who is at fault by tracing back the victim’s work history. Many lawyers rely on databases to find out where their clients could have been exposed. Tracing the exposure can help determine who is considered the defendant. In some cases, the victim may be able to file multiple lawsuits against different defendants, including an employer and a manufacturing company.

Many employers and asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers of asbestos long before removing individuals who worked with it. Employers and manufacturers should be held liable for their actions and inactions. However, many of these companies are bankrupt from settling cases initiated by other victims. In this case, a lawyer can help a victim access trust funds that are put aside for victims who need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

If the defendant is not bankrupt, the patient’s lawyer will help them secure a fair settlement offer to cover all expenses related to the diagnosis. If the defendant and plaintiff cannot agree on an amount, the lawyer will represent the patient in court. The results of the trial will determine how much the victim or their family receives in compensation.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Advocate for Patients with Pericardial Mesothelioma

If you have been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, you need to contact one of our respected Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. A patient with pericardial mesothelioma may receive a late diagnosis, which could impact both their financial and emotional well-being. We help patients and their families recover from the financial losses. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.