Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer known to be caused due to exposure to asbestos metal. While there are several types of mesothelioma, but it is most common found in linings of lungs and abdomen.
In most patients, mesothelioma is detected only when it has reached an advance stage. Why? This is because serious mesothelioma symptoms can take up to 10-15 years to show up. Till this period the patient does not have any peculiar cancer related symptoms. Early stage symptoms such as cold, cough, fatigue, etc. are so common and associated with so many other body disorders that they are seldom taken as symptoms of mesothelioma. This is what makes prognosis of mesothelioma patients poor.
Types of Mesothelioma
Before talking more about symptoms of mesothelioma, it is important to know types of mesothelioma as certain symptoms are specific to the type of cancer.
There are five kinds of mesothelioma:
Pleural mesothelioma: develops in lining of lungs
Peritoneal mesothelioma : develops in lining of abdomen cavity
Pericardial mesothelioma : affects lining of heart
Pericardial mesothelioma : affecting testis
Omental mesothelioma : affecting abdomen
Pleural Mesothelioma, cancer in linings of lungs is the most common type of mesothelioma. Here are most common symptoms:
Pleural effusions is one of the most important and definitive symptoms of Pleural mesothelioma. A pleural effusion is a build-up of fluid between parietal pleura and the visceral pleura. One research points out that close to ninety percent of Pleural mesothelioma patients had Pleural effusions.
Shortness of breath is second most common symptom related to Pleural Mesothelioma
Pain in chest / ribs while breathing
Weight loss with no apparent reason
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is second most common type of mesothelioma and occurs in the lining of abdominal cavity known as peritoneum.
As is Pleural Mesothelioma, where the most common and definitive symptom seems to be Pleural effusions, in Peritoneal Mesothelioma it is build-up of fluid between peritoneum and the abdominal organs called Ascites.
Pain / swelling in abdomen area
Weight loss without any reason
There are other symptoms too, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, etc.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
Pericardial Mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the heart called as pericardium. This cancer is relatively rare as compared to the above two. Most common symptoms of this type of mesothelioma are:
Problems in breathing is one of the most common symptom
Patients also witness chest pain
Fever and sweating
As in case of other mesothelioma types, here too sudden weight loss may take place.
The other two forms of mesothelioma are of very rare and symptoms are not very well established.
How to diagnose Mesothelioma at early stage
An early diagnosis of mesothelioma can help in effective treatment and extend life of the patient but as discussed, it is not easy to do so. Here are some simple tips that can really help in early diagnosis
Know your work history: If you’re current or past workplace involved dealing with asbestos or its products then you face higher risks of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. If this is true, then you should take sudden weight loss, chest pain, cough (which lasts for long time) seriously. As you can see all of them are common symptoms of mesothelioma.
Know your living environment: If your house is located near asbestos mine or a factory which processes asbestos, you need to be extra cautious and take the above mentioned symptoms seriously.
Discuss frankly with your doctor: The key point here is to be extra cautious even for common symptoms if you feel you might have been exposed to asbestos. Remember, you need to consider last 10-20 years of history here as mesothelioma takes lots of time to develop. Thus in case of such symptoms visit your doctor and mention your past history with asbestos and insist on detail check-up.