Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that affects people who have been exposed to asbestos. The time period between the asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma is typically very long. Some people do not develop any mesothelioma symptoms until 40 years or more after the asbestos exposure. This makes it very difficult to diagnose both mesothelioma and asbestosis (another condition caused by asbestos exposure).
Another factor that makes the mesothelioma diagnosis difficult is the variety of mesothelioma types. Mesothelioma develops in the lining of internal organs. consequently, it can affect the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart and testicles in addition as spread to the surrounding tissues. Depending on the exact location of the mesothelioma cancer, the symptoms might vary. The following is a list of five shared mesothelioma symptoms.
1. Pain in the Chest and/or Abdomen
Mesothelioma cancer can produce pain in various body parts. The pain becomes stronger as the cancer advances. Pleural mesothelioma (cancer in the lining of the lungs) often causes pain in the chest. In addition, the patient might have difficulty breathing. The shortness of breath might increase as the cancer advances and causes pleural effusion (retention of fluid in the lining of the lungs). Persistent abdominal pain might be a sign of peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer in the lining of the stomach).
Many patients with pleural mesothelioma experience a persistent, dry cough. As the cancer spreads, they might cough up blood. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor closest.
3. Unexplained Weight Loss
While most people welcome weight loss as a positive event, large and unexplained weight loss might be a sign of trouble. Such sudden weight loss might be a sign that the body is under extreme pressure produced by cancerous cells and is using internal fatty tissue reserves as a source of energy to fight the disease.
4. Persistent Fatigue
Fatigue is typically a normal bodily response to physical and psychological exhaustion. However, if you feel fatigued all the time for no apparent reason, this might be a sign of cancer. You should see your physician if you feel fatigued already as you wake up after eight or nine hours of sleep.
5. Night Sweats and/or Fever
As mesothelioma spreads, it produces a growing number of cancerous cells, which begin to interfere with basic physiological roles. As a consequence, internal tissues might begin to expand, and various body cavities might become filled with fluid. The body responds to these occurrences by producing night sweats, which are often accompanied by a low-grade fever. If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor for a thorough medical evaluation.
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your physician will most likely recommend aggressive therapies to slow the spread of cancer and kill off the cancerous cells. Sadly, already with the most progressive cancer therapies, the mesothelioma life expectancy remains less than one year. However, new treatments are being developed, offering mesothelioma patients hope of remission and a longer, more satisfying life.