Symptoms of Mesothelioma

There are a number of symptoms that can be experienced by someone who may have mesothelioma. Learning about the signs and symptoms associated with mesothelioma can help patients seek treatment earlier.

The symptoms may be related to where the cancer is located as well as the stage that it is in. Some patients may have a buildup of fluid while others may a tumor. The prognosis for each patient may be related to the symptoms that they are experiencing. If you have any of the symptoms below then you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms Related to the Type of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

  • Pain in the chest
  • Buildup of fluid
  • Trouble breathing
  • Continual coughing

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Buildup of fluid
  • Losing weight
  • Trouble eating or feeling hungry

Pericardial Mesothelioma

  • Pain in the chest
  • Buildup of fluid
  • Murmurs in your heart

Testicular Mesothelioma

  • Fluid buildup in the scrotum
  • Testicular pain
  • The growth of a mass.

The Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

This type of cancer is caused when the fibers of asbestos become stuck in the lining of the lungs— the pleura. The fibers are going to cause a lot of irritation to the lining and this causes inflammation. The lining will thicken and then fluid will begin to build up. Pain may be experienced because the lungs are not able to expand all of the ways.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this cancer, accounting for ~80-90% of cases. Treatments like surgery and radiation or chemotherapy can help extend the lifespan for patients diagnosed with this form of malignant mesothelioma.

Stages 1 and 2

Most patients that are in these early stages of the disease are not going to show too many symptoms. Here are the symptoms that are the most common:

  • Shortness of breath (aka dyspnea)
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing all of the time
  • Fluid building up (aka pleural effusion)
  • Fever
  • Being tired
  • Decrease in weight
  • Aching in the body

As you can see, these symptoms are related to a number of different conditions such as the common cold, asthma, the flu, and even COPD. The inflammation can cause discomfort, but this can be seen with COPD as well. This is why a proper diagnosis can be difficult.

“It has been estimated that roughly 25% of patients will suffer with chest pain and even dyspnea for over 6 months before they will ever make the decision to see their physician.”

The scarring of the pleura that takes place causes the lungs to not fully expand like they should. This can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. It can also cause trouble breathing. Thickening like this can be caused by conditions such as pleurisy, empyema, and also tuberculosis.

Stages 3 and 4

You are going to see that the symptoms experienced during stages three and four may be the same as the symptoms experienced during stages 1 and 2, but they will be much more serious.

Many patients are going to be diagnosed at this stage because of some of the symptoms that they are going to experience.

  • Fevering or sweating a lot at night (aka night sweats)
  • Shortness of breath (aka dyspnea)
  • Pain when breathing
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Continual pain in the chest or rib area
  • Coughing all of the time
  • Finding blood when coughing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fluid buildup (aka pleural effusions)

When you enter these stages you may find that you will be given treatments to make you more comfortable and to decrease any pain you may be experiencing.

More on Mesothelioma

Facts About Mesothelioma

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Treatment Options

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Survival Rates

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Veterans and Mesothelioma

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The Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

This form of mesothelioma is found in the thin membrane that lines your abdomen, called the peritoneum. This is the second-most common form of mesothelioma, making up ~15-20% of cases. This type of mesothelioma will have some of the same symptoms as pleural mesotheliomas, like losing weight and feeling tired, and a few not shared. Almost all symptoms will appear in the abdomen or the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Anorexia
  • Blood clotting (aka hypercoagulability)
  • Fluid buildup (aka ascites)
  • Fever
  • Intestinal lesions
  • Intestinal obstructions
  • Night sweats

Peritoneal Mesothelioma also will not be broken into stages like pleural mesothelioma is so the symptoms may vary from one person to the next. This is due to the fact that there are so many fewer cases compared to pleural mesothelioma.

Pericardial and Testicular Mesothelioma

Both of these forms of mesothelioma are rare, but we still recommend being familiar with symptoms. For pericardial mesothelioma, the cancer forms in the pericardium — a thin membrane surrounding our hearts. Symptoms may include:

  • Cardiac tamponade (aka heart compression)
  • Chest pain
  • Constrictive pericarditis (aka pericardium inflammation)
  • Difficulty breathing (aka dyspnea)
  • Heart murmurs
  • Hypotension (aka low blood pressure)
  • Irregular heartbeat (aka arrhythmia)
  • Night sweats
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Shock
  • Visible jugular venous pulse

Testicular Mesothelioma is found in the tunica vaginalis testis, otherwise known as the membrane lining the testes. This form of mesothelioma only makes up ~1% of all diagnoses. Symptoms are nonspecific and can easily be attributed to other diseases, such as other testicular cancers or inguinal hernias. Some cases have been recorded with no symptoms, discovered instead during a routine physical exam.

Misdiagnosing Mesothelioma

Misdiagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma

Misdiagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is common due to the fact that the symptoms are so similar to those that may be seen with the flu or even the early onset of pneumonia. Many people may have trouble when it comes to breathing and even up to one-third of people will report trouble breathing without any pain in the chest, and if they did have pain in the chest then it was not significant.

Each patient is different, there are some individuals that will have symptoms very early on while others may not have symptoms until the very last stage.

Misdiagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Misdiagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is also common. The reasons for misdiagnosis are similar to those associated with pleural mesothelioma. There are a lot of times when this type of cancer will be diagnosed as a hernia or even as irritable bowel syndrome.

Finding the Cancer Early

If you are suffering from symptoms that you believe may be related to mesothelioma then you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible. The tests to identify this disease are getting better each and every day. There is no reason to wait.

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