Mesothelioma symptoms are not specific to the disease; that is, many mesothelioma symptoms are also symptoms of other medical problems. Most studies show that the symptoms of mesothelioma usually begin to appear 30 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Thus, many mesothelioma patients are unaware that the symptoms they are experiencing are related to something that happened much earlier in their lives. This allows the disease to further progress, which is one reason most patients’ mesothelioma prognosis is very grim. Even a short period of asbestos exposure (as little as a few months) can create the conditions for a disease that erupts much later in life.
Mesothelioma affects the lining of various cavities in the body. Over time, the growth of cancerous tumors causes these tissues to expand and gather fluid. Oftentimes, the presence of this excess fluid known as a pleural effusion causes the first onset of symptoms to occur. Mesothelioma symptoms also depend on the location of the tumors.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
For pleural mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the lining surrounding the lung, common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and a persistent cough. Unfortunately, these symptoms are also very common for a number of other ailments, including pneumonia. The most common symptom is localized chest pain, but this may not occur until the disease is well advanced. A less common but still prevalent symptom of pleural mesothelioma is weight loss. Some patients show virtually no symptoms.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the abdominal lining. Symptoms include swelling or a mass in the abdomen, weight loss and abdominal pain. Bowel obstruction and blood clots also have been known to occur and fever is sometimes present.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart, or pericardium. Symptoms include chest pain, cough, irregular heart beat and irregular breathing patterns. Many of these symptoms manifest during physical exertion – even minimal exertion. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest type of mesothelioma.
The earlier cancer is detected – mesothelioma or otherwise – the more effective treatment aimed at halting its progression will be.
[Page updated January 2010]