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5 Early Warning Signs of Mesothelioma

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on January 25, 2022

Mesothelioma is a deadly disease connected to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is carcinogenic to humans, meaning that it causes cancer. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, millions of people have been exposed to asbestos over their lifetimes. 

Asbestos may take decades to show signs of mesothelioma, making it especially difficult to diagnose. Although there is currently no cure for this disease, early detection can improve a patient’s prognosis and lifespan. It may be possible to diagnose mesothelioma early on by recognizing some of its first warning signs.

Cough and Respiratory Symptoms

The symptoms of mesothelioma will depend on where the cancer develops. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining that surrounds the lungs. This can lead to respiratory and chest symptoms. One of the most common early signs of pleural mesothelioma is a persistent cough; especially a dry cough. The cough may be painful and accompanied by shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness or a rapid heartbeat. 

Chest Pain

Chest pain is another common early symptom of pleural mesothelioma, as well as pericardial mesothelioma (mesothelioma in the lining of the heart). Pain or a feeling of pressure in the chest can arise due to tumors developing on the pleura (the lining of the lungs) or associated issues, such as the lungs being compressed by fluid filling the space of the chest cavity. This is called pleural effusion. 

A patient with pleural mesothelioma may also notice trouble breathing and chest pain related to reduced chest expansion. With pericardial mesothelioma, tumors that form in the lining of the heart can cause chest pain or discomfort that feels similar to a heart attack. 


Chronic fatigue is a common warning sign of all four types of mesothelioma, as are recurring fevers. A study by the American Cancer Society found that over 90 percent of mesothelioma patients reported some level of fatigue. Mesothelioma can cause fatigue, weakness, or exhaustion that does not dissipate after sleeping or resting. 

Unexplained Weight Loss

Although weight loss is not as common as cough, chest pain or fatigue, about one-third of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma report this as an early symptom. Unexplained weight loss is most commonly associated with peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen. Unexplained weight loss from peritoneal mesothelioma may be accompanied by abdominal swelling, fluid buildup, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or lack of appetite.


Swelling is a common symptom associated with all four types of mesothelioma. The location of the swelling can depend on the type of cancer. Abdominal swelling may arise with peritoneal mesothelioma, for example, while testicular mesothelioma can cause swelling of the testes. Pleural mesothelioma can lead to swelling in the face and arms. Patients may also notice unusual lumps of tissue under their skin, such as lumps on the chest with pleural mesothelioma or lumps on the scrotum with testicular mesothelioma.

Do You Have Mesothelioma? Help Is Available

If you believe you or a loved one has mesothelioma, see a doctor immediately. It is critical to diagnose mesothelioma and begin treatments as soon as possible. Certain mesothelioma treatments, such as surgeries, are only available to patients who are diagnosed at the earliest stages of this disease. 

Knowing what signs and symptoms to look for, especially as someone who was exposed to asbestos, can help you go to a doctor and receive a diagnosis while the cancer is still in stages one or two. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, someone may be legally responsible for negligently exposing you to asbestos. 

When you are ready to discuss your legal rights and options as someone with a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact The Williams Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation. Our New York mesothelioma lawyers can help you seek financial compensation for your life-changing illness.

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