Diagnosing the Rarest Mesothelioma Type

Diagnosing the Rarest Mesothelioma Type

Primary pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest type of mesothelioma. It can be hard to diagnose primary pericardial mesothelioma because it often looks like other diseases.

And according to researchers from China, signs of mesothelioma can even be completely hidden by other diseases. In this case, primary pericardial mesothelioma was masked by pericardial calcification.

What is Pericardial Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma tumors grow on the linings around internal organs. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma which grows near the lungs. The second most common type is peritoneal mesothelioma which grows on the abdominal lining.

Pericardial mesothelioma grows on the lining around the heart. It is a rare type of an already rare cancer. Fewer than one percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases are pericardial.

Malignant mesothelioma is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Average survival among people with the pericardial type is six to ten months. Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma are limited because the tumors are so close to the heart.

Surgery Confirms Diagnosis

A 50-year-old woman went to the hospital after she started suffering from shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in her legs. A scan showed doctors that there was extra fluid around her heart.

Another scan showed that the pericardium, a structure around the heart, was thicker than it was supposed to be. This is called pericardial calcification.

Based on this information, the woman’s doctors thought she might have tuberculous constrictive pericarditis. They decided to perform a surgery to confirm this diagnosis.

The surgery revealed that the patient actually had primary pericardial mesothelioma. The doctors were not able to see any signs of mesothelioma because the pericardial calcification.

This case shows how important it is for doctors to know more about how mesothelioma can look on tests and scans. Then doctors can make a correct diagnosis more quickly and start treatment sooner.


Zhang J, Liu D, Zhang D, Guo K, Yang X. Primary pericardial mesothelioma complicated by pericardial calcification. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2023;23(1):125. Published 2023 Mar 8. doi:10.1186/s12872-023-03142-w. https://bmccardiovascdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12872-023-03142-w


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