Diagnosed with mesothelioma? Our attorneys can help.
Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the thin membrane that surrounds the heart, is one of the rarest forms of mesothelioma. There are only 200 recorded cases in medical literature, accounting for 1% of all recorded mesothelioma cases. Asbestos exposure is known as the cause of pericardial mesothelioma in most – if not all – cases. People who work with or around asbestos or asbestos products have an increased risk of developing pericardial mesothelioma if asbestos fibers enter the body and migrate to the lining of the heart.
The prognosis in most pericardial mesothelioma cases is not good. According to the American Cancer Society, only 5-10% of all mesothelioma patients live for more than five years past their diagnoses; those diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma may face similar outcomes. The medical treatment for pericardial mesothelioma is not only expensive but difficult to endure. A patient diagnosed with this dangerous form of cancer may face a significantly shortened life expectancy, not to mention overwhelming financial difficulties and a considerable amount of psychological trauma.
At Napoli Shkolnik, LLP, we represent those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related medical conditions. We are committed to helping our clients obtain the medical care and financial support they need, whether this is through VA claims, disability benefits, workers' compensation or mesothelioma lawsuits. Each client has a unique situation and needs; when a mesothelioma lawyer at our firm gets involved, we take care to provide individual attention and unwavering representation through the extent of our client's claim or lawsuit, and beyond.
What is pericardial mesothelioma?
Pericardial mesothelioma is a form of cancer that originates in the pericardium, a thin membrane that surrounds the heart. This membrane is made of two layers: the heart sac, which is the outer layer of the pericardium; and the visceral layer, which is the inner layer of the pericardium. The pericardium works to support the heart and lubricate the space between the heart and chest cavity, allowing the heart to expand and contract freely as it beats.
When a person is exposed to asbestos fibers, which are extremely small and may be curled or thick and needle-like, they may enter the body and make their way to the pericardium. Once the fibers become embedded in the pericardium, the body cannot easily expel them. They therefore remain, causing irritation and inflammation. This may lead to the build-up of scar tissue and may alter the genetic make-up of the pericardial cells, eventually leading to the development of cancerous cells and tumors. The presence of cancerous cells in the pericardium leads to excess lubricating fluid and the thickening of the pericardial layers, which can cause serious or fatal heart problems.
Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma
Excess fluid and the thickening of the pericardial layers may cause symptoms such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, chronic cough, difficulty breathing and fatigue. A patient may also experience heart murmurs, fever and night sweats. These symptoms may be mistaken for other heart problems or may be dismissed by a patient as symptoms of a less serious medical condition. The similarity of symptoms to other medical conditions and the fact that they often do not become apparent until the cancer is in its later stages make an early diagnosis a rarity. Most cases of pericardial mesothelioma are not diagnosed until the disease it in its advanced stages.
Once diagnosed, the treatment for pericardial mesothelioma may include surgical removal of tumors (depending on their location and the patient's overall health), radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these. The approach will vary depending on the patient's age, health and wishes as well as the stage of the cancer.
Looking for more information? A mesothelioma lawyer at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC can offer experienced legal guidance and insight.
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