Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer that a person can contract. The name “mesothelioma” refers to the mesothelium, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers most of the human body’s internal organs. But most cases of mesothelioma specifically affect the lungs, which is known as pleural mesothelioma.
In about 80 percent of cases, according to the American Cancer Society, the cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that was once widely used in construction due to its heat-insulation properties. Unfortunately, we have known for decades that even small amounts of asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, as these fibers are inhaled into the lungs and cause cellular damage.
Mesothelioma is often tricky to diagnose, as symptoms may not occur for years–even decades–after the initial asbestos exposure. And the early-stage symptoms of the disease can be easily confused for other conditions or ailments. With that in mind, here are some of the more common symptoms of mesothelioma to look out for.
Early Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma
Initially, the signs of pleural mesothelioma may resemble those of pneumonia, asthma, or even just a common cold. Shortness of breath is often the first observable symptom, followed by chest pain and coughing. Some of the other early-stage symptoms a person with mesothelioma may experience include:
- Low-grade fever
- Lower back pain
- Persistent coughing
- Weight loss
Two other symptoms that your doctor may notice are blood clots and fluid buildup in your lungs.
Late Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, many pleural mesothelioma cases are not caught and diagnosed until the later stages of the disease. Many of the symptoms of late-stage mesothelioma are similar to the ones described above, albeit with a greater degree of severity or frequency. Some other specific late-stage symptoms include:
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling in the face or arms
Symptoms of Other Forms of Mesothelioma
As noted above, pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease. But there are other kinds of mesothelioma. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma affects tissue in the abdomen, while pericardial mesothelioma impacts the lining of the heart. Like pleural mesothelioma, these other forms of cancer share some commonly observed symptoms, such as fatigue and sudden weight loss. Other symptoms may include:
- For peritoneal mesothelioma – Abdominal swelling, a sudden buildup of fluid in the abdomen, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and constipation.
- For pericardial mesothelioma – Irregular heartbeats, fluid buildup around the heart, and bleeding in and around the heart.
What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Although the symptoms described above are not exclusive to mesothelioma, it is still a good idea to speak with your doctor if you have any of them. If you do, in fact, have mesothelioma, you need to receive immediate medical treatment. And if your mesothelioma can be traced to asbestos exposure, you may have a legal claim against the company or companies that caused said exposure. If you need legal advice in this area, contact the Rockford mesothelioma and asbestos attorneys at Fisk & Monteleone Ltd. today to schedule a free consultation.