What Are the Most Common Mesothelioma Symptoms?
Anyone who worked around asbestos will be concerned about being diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer or disease. What are the symptoms of mesothelioma? The symptoms can vary and depend on the size and location of the cancer.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Pleural Mesothelioma symptoms may include:
- Dry Cough or Wheezing
- Pain in the Chest or Abdomen
- Pleural Effusions
- Shortness of Breath
- Respiratory Complications
- Night Sweats
Initial Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is found in the chest and the initial symptoms can include coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Obviously these symptoms can be related to a number of different health issues. Therefore, it’s important to see your doctor and get a proper work-up to determine the actual cause.
Advanced Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
If pleural mesothelioma is more advanced, other symptoms may be experienced by the patient. The size of any tumors and whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) can play a role in these symptoms which may include:
- Coughing Up Blood
- Body Aches
- Blood Clotting Disorders
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal Mesothelioma symptoms may include:
- Abdominal Distention
- Feeling of Fullness
- Abdominal Swelling / Tenderness
- Abdominal Fluid
- Loss of Appetite
Initial Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma involves the abdominal area and the initial symptoms may include weight loss, abdominal swelling and fatigue. These symptoms are also similar to other health problems. Therefore, if you are experiencing these problems it is important to see your licensed healthcare provider to find out what is going on.
Advanced Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
For peritoneal mesothelioma, a study published in 2007 found symptoms (both initial and advanced) to include:
- abdominal pain
- abdominal swelling
- less frequently night sweats
- hypercoagulability (abnormally increased tendency toward blood clotting)
- clinical presentation with fever of unknown origin
- intestinal obstruction
And a study from 2003 found, “Pain was the most common symptom (recorded in 33% of patients); increased abdominal girth occurred in 31%, increased abdominal girth and pain in 5%, and a new onset hernia in 12%.”
Zebras and the Challenge of Mesothelioma Symptoms
As described above, mesothelioma symptoms, especially the initial ones, can indicate many things. Therefore, many patients are misdiagnosed initially. Doctors have an expression, “When you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras”. This maxim was invented in the late 1940’s by Dr. Theodore Woodward who was a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Woodward was telling his medical students don’t assume an exotic medical diagnosis is likely when a more common explanation is available. Undoubtedly this is sound advice, but in the case of mesothelioma, perhaps more doctors should consider the sound of zebras. In fact, many doctors understand that “zebra-type” diagnoses should be considered until the evidence conclusively rules them out.
Mesothelioma occurs in about 2,000 patients a year in the U.S. It is an excellent example of a “zebra-type” diagnosis. Perhaps because of this, there have been mesothelioma patients who have had a misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis because doctors assumed the hoof beats were from horses and were unwilling to consider an alternative explanation.
The bottom line is this:
If you have mesothelioma symptoms ask your licensed healthcare provider about the possibility of this disease especially if you have had exposure to asbestos.