Life Expectancy for Pericardial Mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma is cancer of the pericardium, a protective membrane that surrounds the heart. As with other forms of the disease, pericardial mesothelioma is always fatal. While the life expectancy of a pericardial mesothelioma patient is hard to predict and largely determined by individual factors such as overall health as a general rule most patients die within about a year of diagnosis.
For some types of cancer, staging models exist to help doctors determine the progression of the disease. This includes pleural mesothelioma, another lethal form of malignant mesothelioma. Unfortunately, due to the extreme rarity of pericardial mesothelioma cases, no staging model exists for this type of cancer. This makes it difficult to predict the life expectancy of a patient with pericardial mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the serous lining of an organ. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. There are three main types of the disease: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.
Researchers know less about the pathology of pericardial mesothelioma how it forms and progresses as well as the nature of the disease itself as compared to other forms of mesothelioma. Some experts believe that the asbestos fibers make their way into the bloodstream, traveling to the heart and lodging themselves in the pericardium, but this is yet to be proven.
All three types of mesothelioma are extremely rare and pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest. Mesothelioma statistics vary widely, but that being said, of the two- to three-thousand cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year, between .7 percent and 10 percent are of the pericardial variety.
Because pericardial mesothelioma is so rare, even less research has been conducted on this type of mesothelioma than on the other types. As a result, statistics relating to the life expectancy of pericardial mesothelioma patients are hard to come by and relatively inconsistent. The average survival time for mesothelioma patients as a whole can range from about four to 18 months, according to the American Cancer Society. Five to 10 percent of patients live five years or longer.
Individual circumstances play the largest role in determining the prognosis of a mesothelioma patient. This can include a wide variety of factors, including:
- Overall health
- Blood-related factors
- Size of the tumor
- Location of the tumor
- Visibility of the tumor
- Resectability of the tumor (i.e., whether or not it can be removed)
- Lymph nodes (whether or not the cancer has spread to them)
Another potentially important factor is the type of cancer cells found in the diseased tissue. There are three types of mesothelioma cancer cells: sarcomatoid, epithelioid and biphasic. As a general rule, patients with tumors comprised of epithelioid cancer cells have a better survival rate than those with the other two types of cells, biphasic cells being the most deadly.
Receiving a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma can be a devastating ordeal. Sadly, the truth is that most people diagnosed with this terrible disease have a short time to live. Though some treatments seek to prolong the life of mesothelioma patients (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, trimodal therapy), most focus on lessening the symptoms and making life a little more comfortable.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, it is important that you act quickly to protect the future of your family and your own legal rights. Most cases of mesothelioma can be traced to asbestos exposure, and this exposure is often the fault of an employer or other party. You may be able to gain compensation for medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering by filing a personal injury lawsuit. For more information, contact a qualified lawyer.
[Page updated May 2011]