Apr 28, 2010

Mesothelioma Symptoms

A patient with mesothelioma often demonstrates symptoms 15 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. The cancer may take decades to develop in the body and symptoms do not arise until after the cancer is present. Many patients are unaware of the severity of their condition since mesothelioma symptoms typically resemble symptoms of less serious illnesses.

If you have a history of asbestos exposure, the leading cause of mesothelioma, it is best to seek immediate medical advice. Informing your doctor of previous asbestos exposure can alert them to the possibility of an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma.

Early Symptoms of MesotheliomaUnfortunately, there are practically no early symptoms of mesothelioma, which is why the disease is commonly diagnosed at a late stage of development. In the interest of early detection, those who were exposed to asbestos but have not yet exhibited symptoms should undergo regular chest X-rays or pulmonary function tests to monitor any adverse affects of asbestos inhalation.

When a doctor informs a patient of a mesothelioma diagnosis, patients and their loved ones are often very confused since the cancer is relatively unknown. Asbestos.com provides a complimentary packet with comprehensive information about mesothelioma symptoms and next-step guidance following a diagnosis.

Pleural Mesothelioma SymptomsPleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer, comprising approximately two-thirds of all mesothelioma cases.

Known symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Persistent dry or raspy cough (typically non-productive, meaning there is little or no phlegm)
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Unexplained weight loss of 10 percent or more
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent pain in the chest or rib area, or painful breathing
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that occurs even when at rest
  • The appearance of lumps under the skin on the chest

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma occur as a result of thickening of the pleural membrane, caused by the rapid production of cancerous cells which can lead to the buildup of fluid between membrane layers. Tissue thickening and fluid buildup place pressure on the lungs, leading to reduced respiratory function.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma SymptomsPeritoneal mesothelioma accounts for approximately 25 to 30 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses and symptoms may include:

  • Night sweats or fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea or constipation (in general, any change in bowel habits or regularity)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • The appearance of lumps under the skin on the abdomen

Symptoms are caused by the thickening of the peritoneal membrane and the resulting build-up of fluid between membrane layers. These changes in membrane composition put pressure on the abdominal region and organs, causing a patient to demonstrate symptoms of the cancer.

Pericardial Mesothelioma SymptomsPericardial mesothelioma accounts for less than 5 percent of all mesothelioma. Symptoms are caused by thickening of the pericardial membrane and fluid buildup. Known symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing, even when resting (dyspnea)
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Generalized fatigue

Pericardial mesothelioma is so rare that the recognized body of symptoms is not as well-developed as with more common types of mesothelioma. It is a particularly difficult type of mesothelioma to diagnose, and this correlates to a poor prognosis among pericardial mesothelioma patients.

Testicular Mesothelioma SymptomsTesticular mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of cancer, as less than 100 cases of testicular mesothelioma have been recorded in the last 60 years. With so few cases recorded, very little is known about the symptoms of this disease. The only known symptom of testicular mesothelioma is the appearance of testicular lumps, and the lumps may or may not be painful.