Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the tissues lining the internal organs, known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material once used in various building and insulation applications. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can lead to growth of cancerous cells in the mesothelium. Multiple types of mesothelioma affect different organs in the body. These are:

  • Pericardial mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Pleural mesothelioma.

Symptoms of mesothelioma will vary depending on the body area affected. In addition, symptoms of mesothelioma don’t usually appear until years or even decades after asbestos exposure.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue covering the lungs. This is the most common type of mesothelioma, and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers in the air. Often, individuals won’t initially experience any symptoms of asbestos exposure. However, once symptoms appear, they can include:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Dry cough, sometimes producing blood
  • Fatigue
  • Pain and/or pressure in the chest.

Thickening of the pleural membrane causes pressure on the lungs, leading to respiratory symptoms. Pleural mesothelioma symptoms can resemble those of other diseases, such as pneumonia or upper respiratory infections.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the mesothelium covering the abdominal organs. This type of mesothelioma is thought to result from ingesting asbestos particles, which then affect the tissues of the stomach and abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss with no apparent cause.

These mesothelioma symptoms result from a thickening of the abdominal mesothelium, and a buildup of fluid. As with pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma’s symptoms can lead it to be confused with other stomach or abdominal problems.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare form of mesothelioma that affects the tissue covering the heart. Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms are unclear because of the rarity of the condition, but may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat.

Pericardial mesothelioma’s unclear symptoms make it particularly difficult to diagnose, often leading to a poor prognosis for those individuals affected by this type of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma: Symptoms in Context

Asbestos exposure shows few, if any, initial symptoms. In addition, mesothelioma symptoms are nonspecific, so it’s easy for all types of mesothelioma to be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. If you have any of these symptoms, and particularly if you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you are advised to see your doctor. Providing this information will lead him to focus on the possibility of mesothelioma, rather than more common and less serious conditions.

Resources

Asbestos.com Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma symptoms. Retrieved December 21, 2009 from the Asbestos.com Web site: http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/symptoms.php.

Asbestos.com Staff. (n.d.). Pericardial mesothelioma. Retrieved December 21, 2009, from the Asbestos.com Web site: http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/pericardial.php.

Asbestos.com Staff. (n.d.). Peritoneal mesothelioma. Retrieved December 21, 2009, from the Asbestos.com Web site: http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/peritoneal.php.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma: Symptoms. Retrieved December 22, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mesothelioma/DS00779/DSECTION=symptoms.

Mesothelioma Web Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma symptoms. Retrieved December 22, 2009, from Mesothelioma Web Web site: http://www.mesotheliomaweb.org/symptoms.htm.