Can Mesothelioma Affect the Heart?

Pericardial mesothelioma is an uncommon cancer that affects the lining of the heart, known as the pericardium. This rare form of mesothelioma has only been diagnosed in around 150 cases. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma can include shortness of breath, chest pain, and irregular heartbeats. It is the least common type of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1% of all cases, and has the lowest life expectancy, ranging from 6 to 12 months.Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the tissue that lines the inside of the chest and abdomen, as well as the space around the heart and other organs.

It is caused by asbestos fibers that become lodged in the lining of the heart, resulting in tumors in the pericardium. With appropriate treatment, some patients have been able to extend their life expectancy by more than one year.When the membrane surrounding the heart is affected (pericardial mesothelioma), it can cause heart rhythm disturbances or low blood pressure. Other symptoms may include chest pain and breathing difficulties. People with this rare form of pericardial mesothelioma have a higher risk of heart failure due to the direct effect of the disease on the heart.Mesothelioma cancer centers specialize in treating this type of cancer and employ specialists who are able to tailor treatment to each patient's needs.

However, pericardial mesothelioma has not been linked to cancer metastasis elsewhere in the body. For example, one patient with pericardial mesothelioma who received a special 3-drug chemotherapy regimen remained disease-free for 24 months after treatment.In smaller amounts, people have developed mesothelioma after exposure to similar minerals such as silica and erionite. If mesothelioma or lung cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be taken to obtain a small sample of tissue with a needle.Erionite was first associated with this disorder due to an increase in cases of mesothelioma in Cappadocia, a region in central Anatoli, Turkey. People with mesothelioma may also experience general symptoms such as fever, weakness, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and a general feeling of ill health (malaise).

Approximately 70 to 80% of affected people have a significant history of exposure to asbestos, making it the main risk factor for developing mesothelioma.Construction workers, electricians, industrial workers, mechanics, shipbuilders, and veterans in New York and across the United States are more exposed to asbestos than other people, putting them at greater risk for developing asbestos-related diseases such as pericardial mesothelioma.In particular, a mouse model carrying a Bap1 germline mutation was found to be much more susceptible to developing asbestos-induced mesotheliomas than similarly exposed siblings who did not carry the mutation. Other malignant forms of cancer may be confused with mesothelioma, including adenocarcinoma which may appear in other areas and spread to the lining of the chest (pleura).Mesothelioma is associated with exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral used in many industries. Patients should ask a mesothelioma specialist if their center is right for them or if they can recommend a center that is more suitable for patients with pericardial mesothelioma.The exact incidence or prevalence of mesothelioma is unknown but it certainly accounts for less than 1% of all forms of cancer. The prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma is poor compared to pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas.

Marissa Trafford
Marissa Trafford

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