Detecting Mesothelioma: Symptoms and Warning Signs

Detecting symptoms of any disease or illness is essential in getting a timely diagnosis and receiving the necessary treatment as early as possible. This is no different for people suffering from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of various organs in a person’s body, as treatment for this cancer is most effective early on and the prognosis for an affected person is substantially less positive when in the later stages of this disease.

CellUnfortunately, mesothelioma has a long latency period that can be anywhere from ten to forty years. As asbestos, mineral fibers that get inhaled or ingested and stuck in the lining of organs, is considered to be the most common cause of mesothelioma, this means that someone exposed to asbestos may not know they have developed this disease until decades after the exposure. Sadly, this often means that a person will not start showing signs of the cancer until it is in its later stages, making a person’s survival chances much lower. Additionally, even when a person does start exhibiting signs of the disease, the symptoms are often ignored as unimportant or insignificant or misdiagnosed as signs of a less serious illness, such as a cold.

Possible Signs of Mesothelioma

Although the signs of mesothelioma are hard to detect, there are certain symptoms a person can look for when they believe they may have mesothelioma. While there are some common symptoms that may manifest in anyone with this cancer, many of the signs are typically symptomatic of the specific form of mesothelioma that a person has. For example, if a person has pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of this disease that affects the lining of a person’s lungs, they may lower back pain, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. A lasting cough and coughing up blood may also be signs that a person has pleural mesothelioma. On the other hand, if a person has peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of mesothelioma that affects the lining of a person’s abdomen, they may show signs of stomach pain, significant weight loss, and vomiting.

Besides specific symptoms for certain forms of this cancer, there are some common symptoms that anyone with mesothelioma may experience, including the following:

  • Blood clotting disorders and problems – many people with mesothelioma experience trouble forming blood clots, which can lead to other serious health problems, such as anemia.
  • Anemia –it is common for people with mesothelioma to develop lower than average red blood cell counts, causing extreme fatigue and other health complications if left untreated.
  • Fluid effusion – this is a buildup of fluid that occurs in either the pleural or the pericardium
  • Weight loss – this symptom can be seen in patients with varying forms of the cancer, although it typically is most severe in those with peritoneal mesothelioma due to pain in the stomach and nausea. However, fatigue and other pain may cause people with other forms to lose weight as well.

While these and other symptoms of mesothelioma are often hard to detect or do not manifest until later stages of the disease, a person who shows any of these signs and has been exposed to asbestos should get checked immediately.

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