Mesothelioma doesn't spring up overnight. In fact, some people who have been exposed to asbestos may not develop the condition for half a century. Because of that time frame and the fact that symptoms may be confused for other conditions, knowing the effects of mesothelioma can help you best protect your health.
Symptoms Differ Depending On Cancer Type
Mesothelioma has specific symptoms, but some patients have none until the disease has progressed into its advanced stages. When symptoms are present, they depend on the type of mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma are some of the most common types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue around the lung, and peritoneal mesothelioma affects the tissue lining the abdomen. With pericardial mesothelioma, the asbestos fibers damage the tissue circling the heart.
Each of these types of mesothelioma has different symptoms:
- Pleural mesothelioma – weight loss, persistent cough, fatigue, excessive sweating, hoarseness, chest pain, coughing up blood, fever, and difficulty swallowing.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma – weight loss, weakness, abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, and constipation or other difficulties with bowel movements.
- Pericardial mesothelioma – chest pain and difficulty breathing.
As you can see, these symptoms are similar to those of minor illnesses, such as pneumonia, the flu, laryngitis, whooping cough, or the common cold. If your doctor doesn't know you've been exposed to asbestos, your cancer might be diagnosed incorrectly. That delays an official diagnosis of mesothelioma, giving the condition more time to develop. In its advanced stages, mesothelioma is much more difficult to treat.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
To diagnose and treat your condition, your doctor will note your symptoms, give you a full physical exam, and take fluid and tissue samples. Imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans will help detect and confirm cancerous tumors.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will create a treatment plan. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but these plans can help you live healthier and relieve painful symptoms. Common treatments include radiation,chemotherapy, and surgery. Just remember that every case is unique and depends on several factors, such as the rate the cancer grows, tumor size, and how your body responds to treatment.
If you are concerned you have been exposed to asbestos or have mesothelioma, we can help. Fill out our contact form today to receive the legal, medical, and financial guidance you deserve.