Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you are wondering "do I have mesothelioma?" you should seek the guidance of your physician as early detection is a powerful asset during treatment. Malignant mesothelioma may not become apparent until 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos, but can be very aggressive once it takes hold. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma are not unique to the disease a mesothelioma diagnosis can be difficult to determine.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the lining of the lung, known as the pleura) may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • shortness of breath (dyspnea) - hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and/or coughing up of blood.
  • pleural effusion - a build up of too much fluid between the pleura (linings of the lungs and chest); a pleural effusion may cause chest pain and difficulty breathing (dyspnea), however, many cause no symptoms and are first discovered during the physical examination or seen on a chest x-ray.
  • pain in the chest - may sometimes be felt in upper abdomen, shoulder, or arm.
Patients diagnosed with diffuse pleural mesothelioma exhibited the following symptoms
(source: "Diffuse malignant mesothelioma of the pleura in Ontario and Quebec: a retrospective study of 332 patients." P Ruffie et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology Aug 1 1989: 1157-1168.)
Symptom % exhibiting
Shortness of breath and/or chest pain 90%
Weight loss 29%
Cough, weakness, fever, loss of appetite 3%
Hemoptysis (coughing up blood), hoarseness, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), Horner's syndrome less than 1%
Pleural Effusions 84%
Asymptomatic 3%

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the abdominal lining which is known as the peritoneum) may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • weight loss - but waist may increase in size.
  • pain or swelling in the abdomen - fluid retention or tumor growth.
  • bowel obstruction - blockage in the small or large intestine.
  • anemia - a reduction in the number of red blood cells to below normal; this forces the heart and other organs to work harder to get oxygen where it's needed.
  • fever
Patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma exhibited the following symptoms
(source: "Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A Review." Bridda A, Padoan I, Mencarelli R, Frego M. MedGenMed 2007 May 10;9(2):32.)
Symptom % exhibiting
Abdominal pain 35%
Abdominal swelling 31%
anorexia, marked weight loss, and ascites percentage not given
less frequently night sweats and hypercoagulability percentage not given
Clinical presentation with fever of unknown origin, intestinal obstruction, or surgical emergency due to acute infalmmatory lesions have also been reported percentage not given

These symptoms can accompany many other, less serious medical conditions; if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and have been exposed to asbestos, you should see a doctor immediately. Asbestos exposure may have taken place 20, 30, even 50 years prior to symptoms appearing, but is a major risk factor; exposure is reported in between 70-80% of all mesothelioma cases.

Very often, asbestos exposure was second hand through a family member. Clothes dirtied with asbestos dust have carried fibers into homes, affecting spouses and children. Workers handling asbestos are now required to change their clothing before leaving work. If you see your physician because you are experiencing any of the mesothelioma symptoms listed above, please make sure to make them aware for any prior exposure, either first- or second-hand.

Mesothilioma: Did you mean Mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer)?

Other common misspellings: misothelioma, mesothileoma, mesotholoma, msothelioma, misothilioma. A little on the etymology of "mesothilioma."