Only accounting for about one percent of all mesothelioma cases, there are about 200 cases of this form of asbestos heart cancer on record.
The disease attacks the pericardium or the protective membrane that covers the heart. Researchers speculate that the cancer begins when asbestos fibers are inhaled and travel to the heart area either through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. These microscopic fibers get caught in the heart and form irritations that eventually cause cancerous tumors.
The first symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are similar to other heart problems. These include an irregular heartbeat, a persistent cough and difficulty breathing. In many cases, these symptoms are caused by an accumulation of fluids in the chest area.
Like other forms of asbestos cancer, there is no known cure for the pericardial variety. However, there are several treatments that allow patients to live comfortable lives with the disease. Those include chemotherapy and some forms of radiation. Surgery is typically not used because of the close proximity to the heart and the potential to damage this vital organ.
- Pain in Chest
- Palputations in the Heart
- Fatigue for Long Periods of Time
- Problems with Breathing
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Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that damages the lining that surrounds some bodily organs and injures up to 3,000 patients a year. The uncommon types of this rare cancer are pericardial, testicular and well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma (WDPM). Each of these types account for only a fraction of mesothelioma cases a year. They are difficult to treat.
As with most types of cancer, pericardial, testicular and WDPM respond best to treatment when caught in the early stages of the disease. The best treatments for these diseases are conventional treatments -- chemotherapy, radiation and, in some cases, surgery. Together, these treatments are referred to as multimodal therapy and sometimes offer the best chance at fighting these types of rare cancers. In addition, treatments that were once thought to be experimental, including gene therapy and photodynamic therapy, are now finding their place mainstream mesothelioma treatment. Also, many patients opt for clinical trials, which have been shown to give the best chance at living longer, more productive lives with the disease. In taking part in clinical trials, many patients feel a sense of pride in advancing the march towards a cure.
To date, less than 100 cases of testicular asbestos cancer have been recorded in medical literature. This accounts for a scant amount of mesothelioma cases worldwide. The testicular variety develops in the male reproductive organs, including the testicles and the pouch of membrane that covers the testicles. Because of the disease rarity, there is no standard set of symptoms. In the few documented cases, the symptoms include swelling and lumps in the scrotum area.
It is unclear how asbestos travels to the testicular area to form the cancer. Scientists have suggested that the fine asbestos fibers hop through the lymph nodes to damage areas of the body. There is no standard protocol of treatment. Typically, doctors use the conventional treatments that include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove the damaged tissue.
Well-Differentiated Papillary Cancer (WDPM)
This rare type of cancer forms from a subtype of epithelial cells called well-differentiated papillary cells. WDPM is frequently seen in women and forms in the abdominal area. While this form of mesothelioma is considered to have a low malignancy potential, the long-term nature of this disease is unclear.
In most WDPM cases, there are no symptoms. The cells involved grow at a slow rate and look like healthy cells. Scientists are not in agreement about the treatment options for this disease. Some think the disease must be treated aggressively, while others take a slower approach. For this reason and others it is vital to have a skilled asbestos medical specialist on your case.
Mott, Frank. “Mesothelioma: A Review.” The Ochsner Journal. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307510/
Nilsson, Ase, et al. “Primary Pericardial Mesothelioma: Report of a Patient and Literature Review.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2918860/?tool=pmcentrez