Mesothelioma is a rare, deadly form of cancer. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, patients are often left with a short life expectancy, and early diagnosis is key to prolonging life. Understanding the early symptoms of the disease can help patients get diagnosed early and improve their outcome.
There are multiple types of mesothelioma, with each having unique symptoms. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases and infects the pleura or the lining of the lungs. Early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include persistent dry cough, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, pleural effusions, and chest pain. These symptoms mimic other respiratory conditions, including pneumonia, COPD, and COVID-19 and can make reaching a diagnosis difficult. As the disease progresses into later stages, patients may also experience fatigue, sudden weight loss, swelling, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, anemia, and fever.
Pleural mesothelioma can also be mistaken for lung cancer. The two diseases have numerous common respiratory symptoms, including cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, as well as fatigue and weight loss. Patients with lung cancer may also experience wheezing, hoarseness, coughing up blood, and frequent lung infections. There are approximately 230,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, versus 3,000 cases of mesothelioma.
Both cancers can be deadly, but patients with mesothelioma have a much shorter life expectancy, so it is important to get the diagnosis correct and begin treatment immediately.
Other Forms of Mesothelioma
Patients suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma, which infects the lining of the stomach and abdomen, may experience more digestive symptoms due to the location of the tumors. These can include abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, vomiting, bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea or constipation, bowel obstruction, and fluid build-up in the area.
Pericardial mesothelioma is rare and infects the lining of the heart, resulting in symptoms such as heart murmurs or arrhythmia that do not appear in other forms of mesothelioma. Tumors in the pericardium make it more difficult for the heart to pump normally, which can misdirect doctors toward heart disease rather than cancer.
Less than one percent of mesothelioma patients experience testicular mesothelioma, which can cause swelling or pain in the testes, a lump in the scrotum, or fluid build-up.
One of the difficulties with getting a mesothelioma diagnosis is the timing of its progression. Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they become lodged in the chest cavity and remain there for 10 to 50 years before tumors begin to develop. Once they do, however, the disease progresses very quickly. Many mesothelioma patients do not experience symptoms at all in the first or second stage, and if they do, they are often mild and easily mistaken for something else.
The presence of certain symptoms is not enough to diagnose mesothelioma, but they may prompt a closer look. Doctors may observe tumors on imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans or see abnormal results on a blood test. A biopsy is needed to conclusively determine a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Patients experiencing mesothelioma or lung cancer symptoms should alert their physician to any history of asbestos exposure. Getting a diagnosis while the disease is in early stages can allow patients to access more aggressive treatments, which can make a profound difference in survival rate.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at Shein Proudly Advocate for Those Who Have Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, speak with one of our dedicated Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Shein Law. We have successfully represented mesothelioma and lung cancer patients and their families in all types of asbestos exposure cases. We will work tirelessly to get you the justice you deserve. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation today.