People perceive mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases to affect only the lungs. Since mesothelioma is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers, it is common to think that it only accumulates in the lungs. However, asbestos can affect the serous membranes which enclose other organs found in the mid-section of our body (not just the lungs) such as the heart, in a condition named pericardial mesothelioma.
Pericardial mesothelioma, also known as mesothelioma of the pericardium is the rarest type of asbestos-induced disease. As is suggestive of its name, this disease affects the linings of the heart or the pericardium. This variety of cancer only affects about 10% of mesothelioma patients. Despite continuous studies, there is no confirmatory evidence that explains how the asbestos fibers get lodged in the linings of the heart, although various theories have tried to explain the occurrence.
One theory proposes that the asbestos fibers, when inhaled, are broken down into smaller particles in the lungs, small enough for them to be carried into the blood stream and pumped into the heart. When this happens, the fine asbestos fibers become lodged in the linings, causing chronic inflammation which eventually leads to cancerous tumor growth.
As with other types of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma can take a few decades to manifest. It usually takes twenty to thirty years, or even longer. This also means that when the cancer symptoms do manifest, it is almost always too advanced for curative treatment.
The most common symptoms to watch out for with pericardial mesothelioma include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, palpitations and chest pains. These are usually mistaken for less serious ailments, making it even more difficult to diagnose immediately. Once a diagnosis has been made by your doctor, the next step is usually to find out the extent of the spread of the cancerous cells. This is often done through an MRI or a CT scan, the results of which will determine the mode of treatment.
Pericardial mesothelioma can be treated through a range of treatment options. If the disease is found early on, surgery may be an option. However, as this disease is oftentimes detected in its late stages, more aggressive treatment combinations including chemotherapy and radiation are frequently involved. Clinical trials are being conducted on pericardial mesothelioma. Because of its rare nature, research studies on this type of asbestos-related cancer have been quite limited.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Posted by itsme at 15:30