Non-Specificity of Mesothelioma Symptoms
The first symptoms of mesothelioma are often similar to symptoms of other diseases that are much less serious. For example, early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (which develops in the pleural lining of the lungs) often resemble symptoms of influenza or pneumonia. Similarly, symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma (which develops in the pericardial lining of the heart) are similar to symptoms of other cardiac conditions.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure and experience any of the following symptoms, it is best to seek immediate medical advice. Also, in the interest of early detection, those who were exposed but have not yet exhibited symptoms should undergo regular chest x-rays or pulmonary function tests to monitor any adverse affects of asbestos inhalation.
Symptoms - Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer. Approximately two-thirds of mesothelioma cases originate in the pleural lining of the lungs.
Known symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Persistent dry or raspy cough (typically non-productive, meaning there is little or no phlegm)
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Night sweats or fever
- Unexplained weight loss of 10% or more
- Persistent pain in the chest or rib area, or painful breathing
- Shortness of breath that occurs even when at rest
- The appearance of lumps under the skin on the chest
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma occur as a result of thickening of the pleural membrane and the build-up of fluid between membrane layers. Tissue thickening and fluid build-up put pressure on the lungs, leading to reduced respiratory function.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Approximately 25% to 30% of mesothelioma originates in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are caused by thickening of the peritoneal membrane and the resulting build-up of fluid between membrane layers. These changes in membrane composition but pressure on the abdominal region and organs, leading to the following types of symptoms:
- Night sweats or fever
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swelling or pain in the abdomen
- Diarrhea or constipation (in general, any change in bowel habits or regularity)
- Nausea or vomiting
- The appearance of lumps under the skin on the abdomen
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
Less than 5% of mesothelioma cases originate in the membranous lining of the heart, known as the pericardium. As the pericardium layers thicken due to growth of cancer cells, fluid builds up between membrane layers, leading to impaired cardiac function and causing the following types of symptoms:
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing, even when resting
- Fever or night sweats
Peritoneal mesothelioma is so rare that the recognized body of symptoms is not as well-developed as with more common types of mesothelioma. It is a particularly difficult type of mesothelioma to diagnose, and because of this, patients who are diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma tend to have a poor prognosis.
Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms
Testicular mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of this type of cancer. Less than one hundred cases of testicular mesothelioma have been recorded in the last sixty years. With so few cases recorded, very little is known about the symptoms of the disease. However, if diagnosed early, it is also relatively simple to treat in many cases. The only known symptom of testicular mesothelioma is the appearance of testicular lumps. These may or may not be painful.
It's important to note that testicular mesothelioma may arrive spontaneously in the testicle or may be a secondary tumor. In the latter case, the primary cancer is typically peritoneal.