Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare, but deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer typically doesn’t develop for many years following exposure, and once it does, the symptoms are relatively subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. Average life expectancy is just 8 months following diagnosis.

Mesothelioma can affect different areas of the body, depending on the type of mesothelioma an individual has. Though it has been discovered in the reproductive organs, the vast majority of mesothelioma cases affect the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. The area of the body first affected by mesothelioma dictates the type of mesothelioma a person suffers from.

Pleural mesothelioma, for example, refers to cancer in the mesothelium that lines the chest and lungs. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, which penetrate the lungs, pleural mesothelioma causes the development of tumors which can obstruct breathing capabilities.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include:

• difficulty swallowing

• coughing up blood

• chest pains

• shortness of breath

• fluid build-up in the chest

• decrease of appetite

• weight loss

• changing of voice or hoarseness

• night sweats

• persistent dry cough

• fever

• fatigue

Similarly, peritoneal mesothelioma causes tumors and fluid build-up along the mesothelial lining of the abdomen. Like pleural mesothelioma, the peritoneal form of the cancer is caused by asbestos exposure.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:

• abdominal swelling

• nausea

• vomiting

• constipation or diarrhea

• fatigue

• abdominal pain

• fluid build-up in the abdomen

Another form of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma.  Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium lining in the heart. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

• irregular heart beat

• chest pain

• fever

• night sweats

• difficulty breathing

• fatigue

• irregular breathing patterns

• tight chest

• persistent cough

Despite the list of symptoms that could suggest the presence of mesothelioma, no symptom is exclusive to the disease, and some patients may be asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms at all. It is important to see a physician as soon as symptoms present themselves to diagnose and treat the cancer as soon as possible and keep it from spreading.

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