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Mesothelioma Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma symptoms tend to develop gradually over time.
Mesothelioma has a very long latency period making it doubly treacherous.

Latency Period: the time from the initial asbestos exposure to the development of cancer.

This latency period can be anywhere from 25 to 40 years.
The length of time it takes patients to report symptoms varies but can range from two weeks to two years, with the average being about two months.
As many as 25% of patients with the disease can have symptoms for six months or more before seeking medical attention.

People most affected by the disease:

Due to its slow onset, the disease tends to affect people between 50 and 70 years of age.
It affects men three to five times more often than women and is less common in African Americans than in Caucasians.
What side of the body most affected by the disease?
The right side of the chest is affected more than the left.
The right lung is bigger than the left lung, or the right lung is of greater size and volume than the left lung.

Features associated with the development of mesothelioma symptoms

The most common features associated with the development of mesothelioma symptoms include the following:

  • presence of fluid,
  • thickening of the pleura,
  • and specific nodules or tumors that may develop in the chest or abdomen.

General mesothelioma symptoms may include the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Anemia, which is a low level of red blood cells
  • Fever
  • Sweating (Night sweats)
  • Muscle weakness

Most early mesothelioma diagnoses happen by accident through routine X-rays or blood tests. By the time someone identifies warning signs, the cancer often has spread, making it difficult for doctors to treat.

Rare symptoms
Difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice or coughing up sputum or blood.

If you go to your GP with any of the symptoms listed above, your GP will examine you and arrange for you to have some blood tests and X-rays or they may send you to a specialist.
According to your symptoms, this can be:
for MPM: lung specialist or
for peritoneal mesothelioma: gastroenterologist.

Mesothelioma Symptoms by types:

Mesothelioma Symptoms and Signs vary depending on where the cancer occurs.

Pleural mesothelioma(mesothelioma of the chest):

The most common form of mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs.
Pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 75% of all cases of the caner(which is mesothelioma).

The most common pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing, Shortness of breath)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing (feeling like food gets stuck)
  • Swelling of the face and arms
  • Pleural effusion
Chest pain:

Over half of the patients have chest pain, usually located low in the chest and toward the back and side.
The pain has usually increased over time and can be severe enough to require narcotic pain medication.
Severe, uncontrolled pain may be a sign of tumor invasion into the chest wall.
The chest wall refers to the structures outside the lungs that move as a part of breathing, including the rib cage and diaphragm.

Dyspnea (difficulty breathing, Shortness of breath):

This is one of the most commonly seen symptoms with this disease.
This shortness of breath is usually due to fluid that has accumulated in the pleural space (the space between the chest wall and the lung) from the cancer.
This fluid accumulation is called a pleural effusion.

Pleural effusion:

An abnormal accumulation of fluid between the thin layers of tissue (pleura) lining the lung and the wall of the chest cavity.
In 95% of the cases, patients with pleural mesothelioma will have a pleural effusion at some time during the course of the disease.

Peritoneal mesothelioma:

Is the mesothelioma which develops in tissue in the abdomen.
Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about one quarter of all cases of the caner(which is mesothelioma).
The most common abdominal or peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain: Pain in the abdomen is usually due to an increase in the amount of solid tumor they have, and not because of fluid.
  • Abdominal swelling: due to fluid that has accumulated in the abdomen.
  • Ascites:
    Abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen that may cause swelling.
    In late stage of the cancer, tumor cells can be found in the fluid in the abdomen.
    Ascites is a common manifestation of peritoneal mesothelioma and can occur as a manifestation of recurrent mesothelioma after surgery for the disease in the chest.
  • Unexplained weight loss : Weight loss can be due to a decreased appetite because of the disease.
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
  • Anemia ( most often in women )
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Is the mesothelioma which affects tissue that surrounds the heart.
Less than1% of mesothelioma cases affect the the pericardium, and unfortunately most cases are diagnosed only after the patient dies.
pericardial mesothelioma symptoms can be confused with other conditions, such as the following:

heart failure,
coronary heart disease, or
pericarditis (a pericardium inflammation).

The most Common Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Pericardial effusion – fluid buildup between the heart and pericardium
  • Arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat or palpitations
  • Heart murmur
  • Dyspnea – shortness of breath
  • Fever and night sweats

The following table summarize symptoms and signs of late-stage mesothelioma according to the tumors location :

  • Pleural Mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma
  • Fatigue
  • Dyspnea – difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • Hypoxemia – low oxygen level
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing
  • Fever/night sweats
  • Pleural effusion – fluid buildup
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Thrombosis – blood clots
  • Peritoneal effusion – fluid buildup
  • Anorexia – loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Hypoglycemia – low blood sugar
  • Arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat/palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Fever/night sweats
  • Coughing
  • Dyspnea – shortness of breath

Mesothelioma Symptoms by stages:

Mesothelioma has a very long latency period which can last for many years, usually decades.
This provides a long timeframe during which symptoms can develop, and in many cases they may be confused for symptoms of another condition even after the symptoms begin to occur.
In general, the early stages of the disease present fewer and milder symptoms than the later stages.
For this reason mesothelioma is so difficult to be detected in the early stages of the disease.

Stage 1 mesothelioma:

The tumor is found only in the following places:
lining of the lung,
abdomen, or
heart,
#Note: in this stage the tumor has not spread to the lymph nodes or other other body parts.
Symptoms: at this stage the majority of people have no or very mild symptoms.

Stage 2 mesothelioma:

The cancer has grown beyond its initial point of origin, and it may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Symptoms: Certain symptoms are likely to occur, such as:
weight los,
chronic coughing, or
shortness of breath.
But these signs and symptoms may still be relatively mild and misdiagnosed.

Stage 3 mesothelioma:

This advanced stage of mesothelioma is where most diagnoses occur, and where symptoms tend to be taken seriously.
Symptoms: Symptoms tend to include:
chest pain or difficulty breathing(pleural mesothelioma),
abdominal pain and discomfort(peritoneal mesothelioma).

Stage 4 mesothelioma:

This is the most advanced mesothelioma stage, and symptoms usually more severe and can affect many body parts.
Symptoms: stage 4 mesothelioma symptoms include the following:
pain,
difficulty breathing or swallowing, and
systemic problems.

Mesothelioma symptoms by Stage summary:

  • Early-Stage Symptoms
  • Late-Stage Symptoms
  • Dry cough or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in chest or abdomen
  • Pleural effusion (fluid)
  • Increased pain
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory complications
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bowel obstruction

Metastatic Symptoms

Symptoms may not appear where the mesothelioma developed.
Once mesothelioma has metastasized (metastasis: is the spread of cancerous cells to other regions of the body.) symptoms will often include systemic problems, such as the following:

  • Hemoptysis – Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Laryngeal Nerve Palsy – Damage to the throat resulting in paralysis of the voice box
  • Nerve issues – Nerve malfunction in arms
  • Horner’s Syndrome – A conjunction of eye-related issues such as a drooping eyelid, constriction of pupils, decreased tear production and conjunctival redness

Metastatic symptoms are a sign of advanced mesothelioma. At this point you have to find a mesothelioma specialist as soon as possible to get the best treatment.

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