What Is Mesothelioma & What Are Its Symptoms?

Mesothelioma is a very serious condition, but its initial symptoms can be very slow to develop and difficult to diagnose. The disease can appear in the chest or in the abdomen, and its early signs are often misdiagnosed as other, much less serious conditions. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer, and until it begins to press on nerves or other organs inside the chest, its growth can go undetected for a long time. To look at the disease in a little more depth, we’ve teamed up with Asbestos Advice Helpline, specialists in mesothelioma compensation claims.

What Is Mesothelioma & What Are Its Symptoms?

Symptoms of Mesothelioma in the Chest

The majority of cases of mesothelioma develop in the chest. The lungs are covered with a pair of tough, fibrous membranes called the pleura. There is a small gap between these membranes known as the pleural space. Normally, this space is filled with a fluid that helps lubricate the membranes when your lungs expand and contract as you breathe. Pleural mesothelioma causes the space to fill up with cancerous tissue, putting pressure on the lungs and the chest, and sometimes spreading to the nearby pericardium, a similar sheet of tissue that covers the heart muscle. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • A cough that never gets better
  • Difficulty when swallowing
  • Changes in the timbre of the voice
  • Sweating and fevers
  • Lower back pain, or on the side of under the arms

Symptoms of Mesothelioma in the Abdomen

The abdomen has a sheet of tissue similar to the pleura, called the peritoneum. Your abdomen contains many organs, and the peritoneum helps hold them in place when you move about, and it also protects them from injury and infection. This tough, fibrous lining can also suffer from the same thickening and lack of function as in the chest cavity, but the cancer is much less likely to spread out of the abdomen into the rest of the body. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Pain in the abdomen that doesn’t go away
  • Constant diarrhoea, or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen, hard abdomen
  • Constant nausea
  • Loss of over 10 percent of body weight without dieting

Mesothelioma is a very serious disease, and the earlier it is diagnosed, the more likely it will be that treatment will be successful. If you have any of the symptoms that are listed on this page, especially if you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the air you breathe, talk to your General Practitioner immediately.

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