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Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

In the vast majority of patients chest pain and breathlessness are the first symptoms.  The symptoms are often mild at the outset and consequently the symptoms are often attributed to other causes, thereby delaying referral to specialist medical care.

Chest pain is often described as being like a “heaviness” or “coldness” on one side of the chest or abdomen.  Often chest pain is located low in the chest towards the back and sides.  Sometimes the chest pain is referred to the shoulder and the upper abdomen and this can lead to inappropriate medical investigations, delaying diagnosis.

Shortness of breath is usually due to fluid that has accumulated in the pleural cavity (the space between the chest wall and the lung).  The fluid accumulation is called a pleural effusion.  In most cases the pleural effusion will be drained and the procedure will reduce breathlessness.  However, pleural effusions can recur requiring further drainage or a pleurodesis (the insertion of a dry sterile talc into the pleural space).  Other common symptoms of mesothelioma include fatigue, cough, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.  Over time the initial “heaviness” changes to a more definite and continuous pain which becomes more severe and intractable as the condition progresses.

As the mesothelioma progresses there can be invasion into the lung which causes severe pain with nerve root involvement.

Pleural Mesothelioma symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the shoulder and back

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The latency period for peritoneul mesothelioma is 20 to 50 years.  The latency period is the period from the time of exposure to asbestos fibres to the time that the cancer starts to form.  The asbestos fibres irritate the mesothelioma cells and over time they cause the peritoneal to thicken.  There is often a build up of fluid, known as ascites.  Over many years the mesothelioma tumours form and they then place pressure on the internal organs.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain of swelling
  • Development of lumps under the skin on the abdomen
  • Changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Anaemia.

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