Mesothelioma affects between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals each year. This form of cancer is linked to occupational exposure to asbestos.
There are two types of mesothelioma and the symptoms vary. Someone who suffers from mesothelioma might only have a few symptoms or might not have any serious symptoms and wait months before seeing a doctor.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form the disease. It is caused by asbestos fibers being inhaled and building up in the lungs. Over the years, scarring and inflammation develop in the lungs and cancer can also appear.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include pain in the chest or in the lower back, fever, sweating and fatigue. Patients usually experience a persistent and dry cough as well as shortness of breath. Weight loss is common and wheezing, muscle and nerve weakness and difficulties with breathing can also occur. Patients might also notice a change in their voice and have a hard time swallowing. Swelling in the arm and face and pleural effusions are other symptoms that can appear.
As the disease enters a more advanced stage, patients are likely to experience respiratory complications. The cancer can spread to other areas and cause Horner’s Syndrome (nerve damage in the face) and Superior Vena Cava Syndrome (a condition in which the vein that returns blood from the upper body to the heart becomes obstructed).
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. It is caused by ingesting asbestos fibers. Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include pain in the abdomen, swelling of the abdomen and fluids can also be present in the abdomen. Weight loss, nausea and constipation can also occur.
Keep in mind that mesothelioma results from exposure to asbestos, usually in a professional setting. Inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers is something that can happen if you worked in construction, renovation or in shipbuilding. Sandblasting materials that contain asbestos or installing insulation are activities that can cause mesothelioma to appear years later.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment. There are many other health conditions associated with these symptoms and it is important to get a professional’s opinion. Your doctor will probably recommend that you get a chest X-ray, get a biopsy done or get some blood tests done. You will get a proper diagnosis after undergoing a few tests. Your doctor will also ask about your work history to determine if you have been exposed to asbestos.
A lot of patients wait a few months before seeking a medical diagnosis since these symptoms are usually benign at first. If you suffer from any of these symptoms and have worked with asbestos in the past, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.