Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which mostly develops in the lining of lungs, abdomen or heart. There are five kinds of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma: affecting lining of lungs
- Peritoneal mesothelioma : affecting lining of abdomen cavity
- Pericardial mesothelioma : affecting lining of heart
- Pericardial mesothelioma : affecting lining of sac surrounding the testis
- Omental mesothelioma : affecting omentum, a sheet of fatty tissue in the abdomen
When do first mesothelioma symptoms arise?
The most challenging aspect of mesothelioma is that its symptoms can take 15-50 years to show up after asbestos exposure. Till that time, it silently keeps working inside the body without any warnings. Women are known to have longer latency period as compared to men. It is best to detect mesothelioma in stage 1 and stage 2 where there is a better chance of a curative surgery.
Another big challenge in identification of mesothelioma at early stages is that the early stage symptoms are very common, such as, fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath and other respiratory issues. These symptoms are so common and are associated with hundreds of other common / serious diseases such as heart failure, emphysema, weight gain or constipation.
The best way to identify mesothelioma at the early stage is to consult a doctor and provide him with your asbestos exposure history. Doctor will then suggest possible tests to see if the symptoms which seem common are of mesothelioma or not.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
This is the most common type of mesothelioma. It affects the lining of the lungs. The most common symptoms of Pleural mesothelioma are:
- Plueral effusions – this is the most common symptom and present in almost all mesothelioma patients.
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath): This is second most common symptom related to mesothelioma. Around 79% of patients tested positive with mesothelioma in a research had this symptom.
- Pain while breathing, pain in chest / rib area : 64% of patients tested positive with mesothelioma were found to have this symptom
- Dry cough without phlegm
- Weight loss without any other possible reason
- Fever, sweating
- Coughing up blood, blood in sputum
- Reduced chest expansion
What is Plueral effusions?
Plueral effusions have been found to be one of the key symptom of mesothelioma. According to a research, 90% of the patients tested positive for mesothelioma were showing Plueral effusions, highest among all the symptoms. Plueral effusions is a build-up of fluid between parietal pleura and the visceral pleura. These membranes – parietal pleura and the visceral pleura have mesothelial cells whose secretion helps lubricate space between chest wall and lungs. In a perfectly health person, excess of fluid id absorbed in the blood. But in the case of mesothelioma, too much fluid is present which leads to Plueral effusions.
Plueral effusions is of two types:
- Transudative pleural effusion – this form is commonly associated with congestive heart failure.
- Exudative effusion : this effusion which is associated with mesothelioma, consists of proteins, cells, etc.
Tests are conducted to differentiate between the two kinds of effusions.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma and occurs in the lining of abdominal cavity known as peritoneum. Key symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma include:
- Build-up of fluid between the peritoneum and the abdominal organs also called Ascites : this is the most common symptom of Peritoneal mesothelioma. According to a research, 77% of all patients tested positive with Peritoneal mesothelioma has this symptom. As the cancer cells start developing at a fast pace, they thicken the membrane around the abdomen. This leads to accumulation of fluid between the membranes.
- Experiencing weight loss without any specific reason : This is second most common symptom, around 69% of patients showed this symptom
- Swelling and pain in abdomen area : This is third most common symptom and 54% of positively tested patients showed this symptom.
- Bowel relates issues – constipation, loose motions, etc.
- Vomiting, nausea, sweating and fever
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
This cancer is rare as compared to the above two types. It occurs in the lining of the heart called as pericardium. The symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma present themselves as fluid build-up takes place after the thickening of pericardial membrane. Some common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath / difficulty in breathing : This is the most common symptom. According to a research among positively tested patients, 46% were found to have this symptom
- Fever and sweating: 32% of patients had this symptom
- Chest pain : 32% of patients had this symptom
- Weight loss : 21% of patients tested positive showed this symptom
One of the key challenges with Pericardial Mesothelioma is its rarity. As it is so uncommon it is almost never diagnosed as early as the above two Mesothelioma types. This leads to poor prognosis.
Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms
This is the rarest kind of Mesothelioma. It is so rare that in last 70 years only 100 cases have been recorded. This also means that medical science does not understand the symptoms of this Mesothelioma very well. Some commonly believed symptoms include testicular lumps and swelling of the scrotum.
It is very important that if you have been exposed to asbestos in past, you take even slightest of the above mentioned mesothelioma symptoms very seriously and get a thorough checkup done with an experienced doctor. Prognosis of mesothelioma, as with all cancers, is best when diagnosed at early stages.