Malignant Mesothelioma: Early Symptoms

Malignant Mesothelioma: Early Symptoms

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer of the protective coating of vital organs, such as the lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and requires about 20-50 years of development after exposure. Malignant mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium, a thin membrane that protects and lubricates several important organs and body cavities.

Symptoms of mesothelioma rarely occur, and in advanced stages the condition may cause secondary illnesses, making it difficult to diagnose. People with mesothelioma have a variety of symptoms, depending on type and severity. Symptoms may be caused by irritation or fluid accumulation in the lungs and abdomen, consequences of tumor growth. They are also a factor that determines the prognosis. Symptoms may occur depending on the type of malignant mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma

It is caused by exposure to asbestos, which affects the pleura (the lining of the lungs). There is irritation and inflammation. Inflammation causes thickening of the pleura and accumulation of fluid around the lungs. This favors chest discomfort and  difficulty in breathing.  Other symptoms include dry cough, feeling of “lack of air” (dyspnea) and weight loss.

Symptoms of mesothelioma in stages 1 and 2 may be diminished and unspecific. However, these include:

  • The feeling of “lack of air”
  • Chest pain
  • Cough persistent
  • Liquid accumulation in the lungs
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Diffuse body pains

However, these symptoms are not specific. They can also appear in other lung conditions, such as  COPD , asthma, pleurisy or tuberculosis.

Stages 3 and 4 of pleural mesothelioma have several specific symptoms associated with those in the early stages, but more severe. At this point, symptoms may include:

  • Fever and / or night sweats
  • dyspnea
  • Painful breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Persistent pain in the chest or region of the ribs
  • Blood cough (haemoptysis)
  • Difficulty swallowing

Peritoneal mesothelioma

It can be manifested by fatigue and weight loss. However, besides these, other symptoms may occur, regardless of the stage, such as:

  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
  • Decrease appetite
  • The appearance of epilepsy

Pericardial mesothelioma

The pericardial mesothelioma (the heath of the heart) is rare and the cause is not fully known. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • the thickening of the pericardium
  • dyspnea
  • The accumulation of liquid in the pericardium

Diagnosis of mesothelioma is difficult to establish, especially in early stages. Symptoms are not characteristic and may lead to other medical conditions. If you have these symptoms, it is necessary to go to the doctor for detailed investigations such as pulmonary radiography, cardiac or abdominal ultrasound. Depending on the necessity, other more accurate investigations, such as computerized tomography, may be performed.

If there are metastasis (the spread of cancer to other regions of the body), the symptoms are more severe. The most common symptoms of metastatic mesothelioma include:

  • Cough with blood
  • Paralysis of the larynx nerves (hoarseness, loss of voice)
  • Nervous system disorders, especially at the level of the arms
  • Horner syndrome – Symptoms occur in the eye (“dropping” an eyelid – ptoza, pupil constriction, redness, dry eyes).

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