Malignant Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals made of microscopic fibers. This highly aggressive and painful cancer develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. Pleural mesothelioma is the cancer occurring in the tissue surrounding the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma arises in the tissue in the abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma involves the tissue that surrounds the heart. Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis affects the tissue surrounding the testicles.
Many of the early symptoms of mesothelioma are the same as those likely to be the cause of other conditions, so people may ignore them or mistake them for less dangerous health problems. Mesothelioma signs vary from patient to patient and with the area of the body affected, and most people with this cancer have symptoms for at least a few months to a few years before they are diagnosed. Early diagnosis of Mesothelioma is usually the only way to extend the life expectancy. It is extremely important patients are aware of the symptoms of this cancer and seek medical help as soon as it is spotted.
The list below provides a number of symptoms and signs of mesothelioma. Make sure you contact your doctor immediately if these symptoms apply to you or if you have a reason to think you may have the cancer, which in many cases is closely linked to being exposed to asbestos fibers.
Pain as the main symptoms of Mesothelioma to watch for:
Pain is the most common symptom of mesothelioma, and it is often one of the earliest signs of the disease. As stated before, every patient may have pain that is different from the other depending on the area infected. Over half of all pleural mesothelioma patients report muscle weakness and body aches in the lower, back or sides of the chest, while sufferers of peritoneal mesothelioma may also experience pain in the abdominal area. Pericardial mesothelioma patients often have chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and constant and acute coughing.
For better pain management, your doctor can suggest prescription narcotics to decrease the severity of the pain. That is why it is crucial you let your physician know about how bad your pain feels. In such a case, your health practitioner will probably provide the following medication to reduce mesothelioma symptoms:
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or acetaminophen are usually prescribed for mild pain. Opioids such as hydrocodone, codeine, methadone or oxycodone, usually used in combination with NSAIDs, are associated with mild pain. Severe pain is often felt after a surgery and it involves “patient-controlled analgesia” whereby the patient controls the dosage of the painkiller (usually a morphine drip). For severe pain, higher doses of the moderate pain relievers may be used, or other drugs can be prescribed including fentanyl and hydromorphone.
Common Mesothelioma Symptoms by Type
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs)
This is the most common type of mesothelioma. Its signs and symptoms can easily be explained by other respiratory difficulties, making its diagnosis a complicated matter. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, you should consult a doctor once you suffer from any of the following symptoms:
-Difficulty or shortness of breath
-Lumps under the skin of the chest
-Fluid buildup around the lungs (pleural effusion)
-Significant and unexplained weight loss
-Coughing that is dry, persistent, painful or involves blood
-Loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing
-Fatigue and body aches
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen or gastrointestinal)
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common type of mesothelioma and it forms in the tissue lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), and it is caused by ingesting asbestos. It can usually be traced by these symptoms, many of which can also be linked to other conditions:
-Ascites (buildup of abdominal fluid)
-Unexplained weight loss
-Loss of appetite
-Nausea and vomiting
-Diarrhea or constipation
-Night sweats or fever
Tunica Vaginalis Mesothelioma Symptoms
Testicular mesothelioma develops in the membrane that lines the testicles, the tunica vaginalis. It is the rarest form of Mesothelioma and it only represents 5% of all cases reported. Because of this, researchers do not fully grasp how testicular mesothelioma develop and might progress in the body or best treatment practices.
In the documented cases, however, doctors noticed that the common symptoms include a testicular mass, accumulation of fluid in the scrotum, and testicular swelling.
How can mesothelioma be diagnosed early?
The symptoms listed can be caused by mesothelioma, but more often they are caused by other conditions. Symptoms of mesothelioma do not appear until tumors have grown and spread, usually after decades from exposure to asbestos. In addition, since this cancer is rare and it represents only 0.3 percent of all cancer diagnoses, most doctors and oncologists have never encountered it and do not consider it. However, if you experience any of these symptoms (especially if you have been exposed to ), it’s important to see a health care provider right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
The symptoms of Malignant mesothelioma can start appearing slowly, emerging in subtle ways that they could be confused with other respiratory problems. Part of why mesothelioma is so hard to diagnose is that it is a rare disease so it’s uncommon for doctors to look for it. Another reason may be that this disease has a long latency period of 15 to 60 years. That’s how long it could take from initial exposure to accurate diagnosis. Consequently, patients can forget that they have been exposed to asbestos and their doctors may discard the symptoms as a sign to mesothelioma.
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma in its early stages allows for a better prognosis for the patient and improve their life expectancy. Be on the lookout for warning signs such as pneumonia, patients in many cases are misdiagnosed with pneumonia while it is mesothelioma. If you or a family member have been subject to asbestos, even if it happened 20 to 50 years ago, then you should consult a specialist who will do the necessary procedures to get a proper evaluation. A specialist will be able to perform a biopsy and examine internal tissues with minimal pain while providing an accurate diagnosis.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos trust funds may be able to compensate you medical bills, lost wages, as well as the pain and suffering you have went through.