Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma targets the protective membranes of the lungs, heart and stomach and is treated by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
There are three types of mesothelioma. Pleural is the most common form affecting the lining around the lungs. Peritoneal attacks the lining of the abdomen and is the second most common form. Pericardial attracts the lining of the heart and is the rarest, affecting only one percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
Because it is so rare, there has been much less research on pericardial mesothelioma than on the other forms. There is hope that more treatment options will be developed in the future.
Chemotherapy and pericardiectomy (surgery to remove the membrane around the heart) can help slow the spread of the cancer although the prognosis is generally six months. These are difficult treatment choices that require professional guidance.