The National Cancer Institute states that: “Malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura), the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) or the lining around the heart (the pericardium).
Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos. Others have been exposed to asbestos in a household environment, often without knowing it.’, ‘
The onset of mesothelioma symptoms is usually very slow.
Symptoms for Pleural Mesothelioma (involving the lung / chest area) are:
- chest pain and pain in the lower back
- difficulty breathing
- weight loss
- muscle weakness and sensory loss
swelling of the face and arms
- coughing up blood
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma (involving the abdominal / stomach cavity, liver, spleen or the bowel) are:
- abdominal bloating due to fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity
- nausea & vomiting
- swelling of the feet
- impaired bowel function.
Unfortunately, the early mesothelioma symptoms are often ignored or mistaken for minor ailments because they are not specific to the disease.
Therefore, it is critical to investigate one”s exposure to asbestos. While pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, cough, fever, sweating, fatigue and weight loss may be common to many minor ailments, it is the knowledge that these mesothelioma symptoms are present in a person with a high likelihood of asbestos exposure that should raise a red flag.
Mesothelioma symptoms and signs from mesotheliomas depend upon location of the mesothelioma, its size and whether it is benign or malignant .
Benign forms of the disease are generally asymptomatic. The symptomatology of malignant mesotheliomas is due to tumour growth resulting in invasion of surrounding structures and/or the production of fluid (pleural effusion, ascites, or pericardial effusion).
Chest pain may be caused by invasion of the chest wall. Pleural effusion causes collapse of adjacent lung and shortness of breath.
Mesothelioma symptoms of distant spread are possible, but uncommon since the tumour is usually a local problem and blood borne spread is uncommon.
Patients with more advanced disease may be ill generally with fever, night sweats and weight loss.
Involvement of the membrane around the heart (pericardium) may cause heart rhythm disturbances.