Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is almost exclusively associated with exposure to asbestos particles. Mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose because it may not develop for decades after the exposure to asbestos has occurred. Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of the disease, caused by exposure to a large amount of asbestos or exposure over a long period of time.
The pericardium is a fluid-filled membrane sac that covers and protects the heart. The membrane has two layers:
- Visceral layer, the inner layer
- Parietal layer, the outer layer
The pericardium produces fluid to help lubricate the area and prevent friction in the area. The membrane is important because it keeps the heart contained within the chest cavity and it prevents the heart from expanding too much when blood flow increases.
In pericardial mesothelioma, asbestos particles become trapped in between the two layers of the pericardium. Over time, the fibers cause scar tissue to develop. Up to forty years after the event, cancer cells can develop in these lining tissues and can expand throughout the cavity. Side effects from this type of mesothelioma include:
- Heart palpitations
- Inflammation in the area surrounding the heart
- Irregularities in the heart’s functions
Since mesothelioma is difficult to detect and pericardial mesothelioma is so rare, the condition may be difficult to diagnose.
To learn more about mesothelioma and types of asbestos-related disorders, visit the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Help Center or complete the contact form at the top of the page.