Symptoms and Diagnosis
|What Is Mesothelioma|
Early symptoms of mesothelioma can be very general. Thus, they are often ignored, or mesothelioma may be misdiagnosed. Mesothelioma may affect three different areas in the body, the chest (pleural mesothelioma), the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), or, rarely, the heart (pericardial mesothelioma). Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma(lining of the chest) can include:
- pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest
- shortness of breath
- trouble swallowing
- feeling tired / fatigue
- weight loss
- swelling of the face and arms
- muscle weakness
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma(lining of the abdominal cavity) include:
- abdominal pain, sometimes severe
- weight loss
- fluid or a lump in the abdomen
Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma(lining of the heart) include:
- constrictive pericarditis
- pericardial effusion
- cardiac tamponade
- heart failure caused by myocardial infarction
Other symptoms include persistent coughing and coughing blood. Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. If you have worked with asbestos or may have been exposed to asbestos in the environment and you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor right away. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.
Because it generally has a long latency period – mesothelioma may develop as many as 30 to 40 years after exposure, the disease is often advanced by the time it is diagnosed, making the prognosis very grim. The average survival time is one to five years after diagnosis, although this has been improving in recent years due to advancing technology in diagnosing and treating the disease. Survival rates may depend on factors including the size of the cancer, where it is, how far it has spread, how it responds to treatment, and the health of the patient.
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