9 Most Common Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a relatively uncommon cancer that generally attacks the lungs, heart, or abdomen lining. A primary trigger is asbestos exposure, a chemical substance widely used in the construction industry. While it's a rather infrequent condition, a basic understanding of its characteristics can considerably contribute to timely detection and treatment.

In this guide, we will describe the most typical symptoms of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma symptoms can vary and may be mistaken for more common illnesses, making this cancer complicated to diagnose early on. You'll learn about these occurrences in a straightforward manner, assuring you're well-informed about this disease.

1. Difficulty Breathing or Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath or respiratory problems are two typical symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. The two symptoms are caused by a fluid buildup around the lungs (pleural effusions). The pressure caused by this fluid concentration may cause chest discomfort and difficulty breathing.

Another factor can be that cancer pushingon the lungs or airways, inflammation of the airways, or impaired lung function due to scarring may also be contributing factors to shortness of breath.

You should notify your doctor without delay if you suffer hardship breathing or shortness of breath. They can perform diagnostic procedures such as imaging scans and biopsies to determine if your complaints are due to mesothelioma or other health problem.

You should not wait until it is too late to seek therapy for mesothelioma. Timely detection and cure can significantly enhance the prognosis.

2. Chest Pain

The presence of a painful sensation in the chest area is a frequent characteristic of this cancer, especially in cases affecting the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma). When a tumor spreads in the chest space, it can aggravate tension on specific tissues, such as the nerves or ribs, resulting in discomfort or pain. Sometimes, this pain extends to the back or underneath the rib cage, based on the location and size of the tumor.

Visualize your chest cavity as a room with limited space. As the tumor expands, it starts occupying more and more of this space, causing the surrounding structures to become cramped and compressed. This compression results in the sensation of pain experienced by the individual. Moderate to severe pain may occur, and it may intensify with certain behaviors, for example, coughing.

Bear in mind that discomfort in the chest can be a sign of an array of illnesses. Therefore, if you're struggling with chronic chest ache, immediately seek medical attention to identify the underlying problem and receive adequate therapy.

3. Persistent Cough

A "Persistent Cough" is something that continues, not clearing up like a cold or flu. It's one of the indications that patients with mesothelioma frequently report. But what's behind this constant coughing?

Well, suppose you have mesothelioma cancer spreading in the lining of your lungs. This growth can lead to irritation of the lung or the tubes that air travels through, known as bronchial tubes. This irritation tickles the sensitive lining, triggering a cough reflex to clear what your body perceives as a foreign object or irritation.

This can feel like a nagging, scratchy cough that can't disappear. At times, the condition can even result in spitting up blood, a symptom known as hemoptysis. Even though this is alarming, it's usually indicative that the tumor is causing some insignificant bleeding in the respiratory system.

You should know that mesothelioma isn't the only disorder that induces chronic coughing. Other illnesses can also cause it, like allergies. Seek medical attention if you experience a persistent cough, especially if you have been exposed to asbestos.

You shouldn't panic about a persistent cough, but you should be aware of it. Early diagnosis of asbestosis may lead to more opportunities for healing and potentially better outcomes, which is why it's essential to stay alert to any changes in your body.

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4. Lack of Energy

Another common mesothelioma symptom is the presence of tiredness, due to the invasion of cancer cells. This depletion of energy can feel like exhaustion even after a mild physical activity and can drastically affect a person's overall well-being.

Fatigue can result from cancer and other factors, such as chemotherapy treatments or anemia caused by cancer-induced blood loss. Patients need to monitor their fatigue levels and communicate any significant changes to their healthcare team.

In addition to physical fatigue, mesothelioma patients may experience mental exhaustion due to the emotional toll of dealing with a severe illness.

5. Weight Loss

Patients with mesothelioma tend to lose weight without any dietary or lifestyle changes. The gradual decrease in body mass can indicate systemic symptoms that should not be ignored.

The following are the key reasons for weight loss in mesothelioma:

Decreased Appetite: Mesothelioma patients suffering from cancerous tumors within the abdomen tend to experience reduced hunger as cancer grows more prominent. This leads to decreased calorie intake, ultimately resulting in weight loss.

Cancer Cachexia: It is a condition when the body loses muscle and gains fat, leading to weight loss. Fibrosis and inflammation caused due to mesothelioma damage healthy tissue, result in cytokine release leading to poor appetite, increased energy expenditure, and decreased anabolism.

Altered Metabolism: Mesothelioma affects metabolic function resulting in poor nutrient assimilation, causing wastage. Increasing oxidative stress damages mitochondrial membranes leading to dysfunction that impacts cellular energetics.

Notably, although weight loss is a common symptom among patients with mesothelioma, reaching out for medical assistance is essential for diagnosis and treatment procedures.

6. Night Sweats or Fever

Mesothelioma patients may experience sudden changes in body temperature due to the immune response triggered by the disease. This can lead to night sweats or fever, which could also result from infections caused by asbestos exposure. Patients must monitor their temperature and report any unusual shifts to their doctor.

Fever can sometimes signify mesothelioma complications, such as pleural effusion or pneumonia. This underscores the importance of seeking prompt medical attention if you notice any temperature changes, as early diagnosis and treatment could offer better prospects for effective management of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma symptoms are hard to detect. Undiagnosed, they can quickly progress and cause serious health problems. Therefore, anyone who has been exposed to asbestos needs to undergo regular health screenings and pay close attention to changes in their body's normal functioning.

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7. Difficulty Swallowing

An often reported mesothelioma symptom experienced by patients is discomfort in consuming food and beverages. This commonly occurs when mesothelioma tumors develop near or on the esophagus, causing a narrowing of the passage. As a result, swallowing becomes painful and challenging for advanced mesothelioma patients. Because of the discomfort of eating, patients may suffer significant weight loss and malnutrition, causing other health complications.

Treatment for difficulty swallowing may include medications, surgery, and radiation therapy, among others. A combination approach involving all three options is often necessary to manage severe cases effectively.

8. Swelling of the Face or Arms

One commonly occurring manifestation of advanced mesothelioma is the Superior Vena Cava (SVC) Syndrome. The condition arises when the chest contains an obstruction that constricts blood flow, resulting in swelling of the face, arms, and hands. This symptom is more common in pleural mesothelioma patients, where a chest tumor compresses veins or invades the lining.

The presence of swelling on only one side of the body could mean that it is caused by a narrowed or blocked vein. In contrast, when it manifests simultaneously on both sides and causes difficulty and pain, the disorder may be caused by mesothelioma-related SVC syndrome. Furthermore, swelling can be accompanied by other signs such as wheezing, shortness of breath, voice changes, etc.

You should seek immediate treatment if you experience any symptoms related to mesothelioma, like SVC syndrome, as early intervention saves lives.

9. Abdominal Pain or Swelling

During peritoneal mesothelioma, a malignant tumor develops in the thin tissue lining of the abdominal cavity, contributing to abdominal pain or swelling. Aside from discomfort in the abdomen or swelling, sufferers with also experience other issues such as an unexplained loss of appetite, struggles in digesting food, and frequent constipation. Mesothelioma may cause ascites, where an abnormal accumulation of fluid builds up inside the abdomen, increasing pressure inside the abdominal cavity.