Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It can be difficult to diagnose, as there are relatively few experts on the disease and the symptoms often look like other diseases at first. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help patients get to a diagnosis faster, especially if they have a history of asbestos exposure.
Some mesothelioma symptoms overlap with other types of cancer. Patients suffering from mesothelioma may experience fatigue, unexplained sudden weight loss, fever, sweating, or loss of appetite. These symptoms can easily be confused for another type of infection. Patients may also develop blood clots related to their mesothelioma. Other symptoms of mesothelioma can vary, based on where the tumors are located.
Symptoms by Type
There are multiple types of mesothelioma, each of which has its own set of symptoms that patients may experience. Most patients experience pleural mesothelioma, which infects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity and accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases. Pleural mesothelioma patients often experience respiratory symptoms, such as persistent cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing or hoarseness, or pain or tightness in the chest. Fluid buildup in the chest, known as pleural effusions, can create pressure in the chest and prevent the lungs from expanding properly. As the disease progresses, patients may have trouble swallowing or begin coughing up blood. Pleural mesothelioma mimics other respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia, COPD, bronchitis, lung cancer, or even COVID-19, making it difficult to diagnose.
The second most common type of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma, which infects the lining of the stomach and abdomen. Tumors in the peritoneum can cause pain in the abdomen and feelings of bloating or nausea. Patients may experience other digestive symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Like pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma can cause painful fluid buildup in the abdomen, known as ascites. At first, these symptoms would point to a digestive condition, such as a stomach virus, IBS, Crohn’s disease, or another cancer infecting the abdomen, such as ovarian cancer.
There are even more rare types of mesothelioma that also have unique symptoms. Pericardial mesothelioma infects the pericardium, or the lining which surrounds the heart. Patients with pericardial mesothelioma may also experience chest pain, cough, and difficulty breathing due to fluid buildup in the chest, but unlike pleural mesothelioma patients, they may also experience heart palpitations, murmurs, or irregular heartbeat, which can lead doctors to diagnosis of a heart condition rather than mesothelioma. There have been very few cases of testicular mesothelioma, which usually presents with pain and inflammation in the scrotum and is easily mistaken for a hernia.
One of the difficulties with diagnosing mesothelioma is that symptoms do not appear for many years after the asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers can lay dormant in the body for 10 to 60 years or longer before tumors begin to develop, and patients may not develop symptoms right away. Time spent looking at other diagnoses can delay treatment, so it is important to let your physician know if you have a history of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma tumors can be detected with an imaging scan, and the diagnosis can be confirmed with a biopsy.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Those Who Have Asbestos Diseases
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, or another asbestos disease, speak with one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case with a team member.