30.9.09

Pericardial Mesothelioma: Quick Facts

What is pericardial mesothelioma ?

It is a cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust, and is the most rare of mesothelioma cancers. It accounts for about 5% of all cases.
Its period of latency (time it takes for the symptoms to show) is approximately 30-50 years. Symptoms are similar to other diseases such as pneumonia whilst in the early stages. This makes it rather difficult to diagnose and treat.

What are the treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma ?

There are three options available for an individual diagnosed with this cancer; surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A patient will first require a doctor's evaluation to determine which treatment option is suitable for him.

What are my chances of survival from pericardial mesothelioma ?

It is important to stress that once you start experiencing the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma (shortness of breath, chest pains, coughing up blood, and palpitations) you should immediately seek specialized help.
The prognosis of pericardial mesothelioma depends largely on how early the cancer is detected. Should you be diagnosed in the later stages of development, your chances of survival could be very slim (usually a few months).

Can you go through each of the treatment options ?

Radiation - large doses of radiation are used to kill the cancerous cells on the pericardium. The disadvantage of using radiation to treat pericardial mesothelioma is that the vital organs close to the heart are also being damaged.
Surgery - this can be divided into two parts; aggressive surgery & palliative procedures. Aggressive surgery involves the removal of the cancerous cells from the pericardium. This procedure is only performed by an extremely skilled surgeon as the cells are usually located in close proximity to the heart and lungs. Any small mishap can have a fatal outcome.
Palliative procedures are used in the latest stages of pericardial mesothelioma. They serve the sole purpose of relieving the symptoms since the cancer is almost incurable at this stage.
Chemotherapy - drugs are used to kill the cancerous cells. Unfortunately, the majority of drugs used to treat pericardial mesothelioma have an extremely low success rate. Pharmaceutical companies are conducting trials to come up with the right combination of drugs that can produce better results for treating pericardial mesothelioma.
You also have dual therapy which is just a combination of the three methods. Cancerous cells are removed by means of surgery, then the remaining cells are killed off by radiation and chemotherapy. Although still dangerous, dual therapy has demonstrated a higher success rate than using the three individual methods alone.



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