Asbestos and Mesothelioma have both occupied prominent spots in the national dialogue over the past several years. Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that can develop due to exposure to asbestos. Asbestos damages the genetic material of the cells that make up the mesothelium of the lung.
This DNA damage leads to an uncontrolled growth of these cells and can hinder the function of other organs. Because of the damage this lung cancer can cause, it is vital that people know about the symptoms of mesothelioma so that they can ensure that it is properly diagnosed and ultimately seek medical attention for this disease.
Identifying Mesothelioma Symptoms
While most people associate mesothelioma with lung cancer, in reality, mesothelioma can develop in different locations throughout the body. This means that the symptoms can change with the location as well. The most common symptoms involving any type of cancer are weight loss, extreme fatigue, and night sweats. This is due to the high levels of energy consumption by the cancer cells. The symptoms associated with the different subtypes of mesothelioma will be discussed below.
Pleural Mesothelioma: This is the classic type of mesothelioma that most people think about because it involves the lung. Depending on the disease stage, the symptoms can vary; however, almost everyone develops pain on breathing called pleurisy. When patients inhale, the lungs expand. This places the cancer tissue under a tremendous amount of stress and can irritate the nerves, causing pain. When the cancer grows, it will take up space inside the lungs. This decreases the amount of empty space available for air and patients will feel short of breath. If the cancer invades the blood vessels, patients can start coughing up blood, called hemoptysis.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma can also develop in the abdominal cavity. People can swallow asbestos fibers that land in the stomach and spread. This cancer will cause intense abdominal pain that worsens as cancer invades the various abdominal organs. When the membranes of these organs are damaged, fluid shifts occur and people can develop swelling in the abdominal region called ascites. People may also notice that they are going to the bathroom more often. Because it hurts to eat, patients will also lose their appetite.
Pericardial Mesothelioma: Finally, mesothelioma can also attack the heart. Patients will notice pains in their chest because the heartbeat stretches the cancerous tissue. Physicians may notice heart murmurs or irregular heartbeats. Eventually, the cancer also spreads to the lungs due to their location relative to the heart and patients can develop a cough and shortness of breath.
Because of the severity of mesothelioma, patients should seek medical attention for any of the above symptoms. In addition, patients who may have been exposed to asbestos should contact a legal professional for advice. Medical bills are expensive and there may be legal avenues for financial relief.