Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in countless products including construction materials, cars (brakes, clutches and transmissions), insulation, and many household items such as oven mitts and hair dryers. Even some cigarettes and garden products contained asbestos. Although there is no comprehensive ban of this deadly mineral in the U.S. it was phased out in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in most products. Still, many older homes, cars and other products still contain asbestos.
It’s been estimated that millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people throughout the world have been exposed to asbestos. Thankfully, mesothelioma does not affect everyone who has come in contact with this carcinogenic mineral. In fact, only a very small percentage of people who were exposed to asbestos will, someday, be diagnosed with an asbestos caused disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis. There are also many people who have survived this horrendous disease.
For people who are concerned about a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are a number of warning signs that you can keep in mind. Remember, this article provides only general information not medical advice and if you have any concerns about asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, or any other health condition, you should see your licensed healthcare practitioner.
There are two major types of mesothelioma and each has its own signs and symptoms. The most frequent type is called pleural mesothelioma and it affects the lining around the lungs. The second most frequent type is called peritoneal mesothelioma and it affects the lining around the abdomen. Both types are life threatening.
Here are five warning signs associated with malignant mesothelioma:
1. Asbestos Exposure
One sign or risk factor for both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma is often an extensive history of asbestos exposure through work. People who worked around asbestos on a daily basis and did not have any protective clothing or breathing equipment may have inhaled or ingested millions or billions of these dangerous asbestos fibers over the course of their career. Such exposure puts them at greater risk than people with little or no asbestos exposure.
2. Coughing, Chest Pain & Difficulty Breathing – Pleural Mesothelioma
Because pleural mesothelioma is found in the chest, the initial symptoms can include coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Because these symptoms can be related to many different health concerns, it’s important to see your doctor if you experience any of these.
3. Weight Loss, Abdominal Swelling & Fatigue – Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Because peritoneal mesothelioma is located in the abdomen initial symptoms may include weight Loss, abdominal swelling and fatigue. These symptoms can of course be caused by many other reasons. Your doctor can help you determine what ailment or disease may be causing these symptoms.
4. Fluid retention
In both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, fluid build-up can be an important symptom. In the pleural type of this cancer a symptom called “pleural effusion” is often found with many new mesothelioma patients. Pleural effusion takes place when there is an unusual amount of fluid that builds up around the lungs. There are many medical conditions that can lead to this, but mesothelioma is one of them.
In peritoneal mesothelioma many patients have ascites, which is the accumulation of ascitic fluid within the abdomen. Many disorders can cause ascites, but peritoneal mesothelioma is one of them.
Pain is of course the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and pain is a symptom reported in both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. As with many of the other symptoms listed, pain can be a result of many different ailments. If you or your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms do not hesitate to visit your licensed healthcare provider. Mesothelioma is a difficult disease to treat, but earlier diagnosis give clinicians more time and opportunities to provide effective therapies.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition and is not a replacement for advice, recommendations or treatment by a professional healthcare provider. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional when you have any health concern. You should not delay in seeking or disregard medical advice based on information in this article.