Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks the heart’s lining, known as the pericardium. While there are three different mesothelioma types, pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest and accounts for about 10% of all mesothelioma cases worldwide. Unfortunately, given the fact that this cancer lodges in the area around the heart, doctors view pericardial mesothelioma as the most serious mesothelioma type.

What Causes Pericardial Mesothelioma?

To this day, asbestos exposure is the only known cause of pericardial mesothelioma or any other mesothelioma. With all mesothelioma, loose asbestos particles are inhaled and gather in or near the internal organs, most often the lungs. However, for pericardial mesothelioma, it is not clearly understood how the asbestos fibers become lodged in the heart’s lining.

Some researchers theorize that pericardial mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers, once broken up into smaller pieces in the lungs, are carried from the lungs into the blood stream. As the fibers are pumped through the heart, they may become lodged in the heart lining. Once lodged in the pericardium, a chronic inflammation process leads to cancerous growths or tumors, eventually causing pericardial mesothelioma. However, because pericardial mesothelioma is so rare, there is little specific research on this type of mesothelioma.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Tumors in the pericardial region cause tissue to expand and allow fluid to accumulate around the heart. The fluid can interfere with the heart’s ability to function. It is this fluid that is responsible for most pericardial mesothelioma symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, ranging from uncomfortable to severe
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Persistent coughing
  • Extreme fatigue after minimal activity or exertion

Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms can vary with each patient and can be affected by numerous variables, including tumor location and the overall patient health. The patient’s age may also factor into the equation.

Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms, like the symptoms associated with other asbestos-caused mesotheliomas, are often mistaken for something more common. With pericardial mesothelioma, heart attack or some other sort of heart disease is often suspected, especially when the patient begins complaining of persistent chest pains. As a result, diagnosis may be delayed until the cancer has progressed to a late stage.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma or another cancer linked to asbestos exposure, our experienced attorneys can answer your legal questions.  

Published November 17, 2011 by