Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that develops in the layer of tissue covering the internal organs, or the mesothelium. For most people, this cancer develops in the chest all along the lining of the lungs. Nearly all cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos, and the symptoms often take a very long time to develop. Unfortunately, most people don’t know they have this cancer until it’s progressed to the late stages when treatment is difficult.
When symptoms do present, they are often confused with other illnesses or diseases, making it hard to catch mesothelioma early on.
Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The signs and symptoms that develop depend on the type of cancer and where it appears.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this cancer, and it develops in the lining of the lungs. About 75% of cases are pleural, and typically affect the chest cavity and breathing.
Common symptoms of this form of mesothelioma include:
- Chest pains
- General aches and pains
- Fluid in the lungs
- Sudden or unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
The symptoms of this form of mesothelioma are often confused with other diseases and illnesses, including the flu, lung cancer and pneumonia.
The rarest form of mesothelioma, pericardial accounts for about 1% of cases and affects the lining of the heart. Unfortunately, pericardial mesothelioma isn’t diagnosed until after the patient has died.
Signs of this form of mesothelioma include:
- Fluid build-up near the heart
- Heart murmur
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
Symptoms often mimic other diseases, such as heart disease, pericarditis and heart failure.
The second-most common form of mesothelioma is peritoneal, which develops in the lining of the abdomen. This form accounts for about a quarter of cases.
Symptoms can vary greatly with peritoneal mesothelioma, depending on where the tumors form, and may include:
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Bowel obstruction
- Loss of appetite
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Unexplained or sudden weight loss
Because symptoms are often non-specific, they are often confused with other diseases.
Signs of Advanced Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, most people are unaware they have mesothelioma until it’s too late. Most diagnoses occur in stage 3, which can make the disease very difficult to treat.
At this point, other more serious symptoms appear, including:
- Coughing up blood
- Horner’s syndrome
- Laryngeal nerve palsy (parlaysis of the voice box)
- Other nerve issues
The average life expectancy of patients with mesothelioma is between 12 and 21 months. Roughly 40% of patients will live one year, while 20% will survive more than two years.
What to Do If You Have Symptoms of Mesothelioma
If you’re experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of mesthelioma, it’s important to see your doctor right away. Explain your symptoms in detail without leaving anything out. The more detailed your list of symptoms, the easier it will be for your doctor to diagnose your condition.
Never ignore the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure, often in the workplace. Most patients can obtain compensation to secure their family’s future and cover the cost of treatment. An attorney who specializes in mesothelioma cases can help patients recoup damages while focusing on their health.
Article Submitted By Community Writer