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Mesothelioma Symptoms

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on January 8, 2024

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a particularly devastating form of cancer, in part because its symptoms are typically not evident for 20 years or more after the asbestos exposure that caused it occurred.

Mesothelioma’s long latency period makes it difficult to diagnose in its early stages, and many of its signs and symptoms vary based on where the cancer develops. Diagnosis is often further complicated by the fact that mesothelioma shares symptoms with other health concerns as wide-ranging as influenza, pneumonia and lung cancer.

New York mesothelioma lawyer Joseph P. Williams and the team at The Williams Law Firm are experienced advocates for asbestos exposure victims and their families. We have an extensive record of success recovering the financial compensation necessary to cope with medical costs and other expenses.

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call us today at (855) 575-6376 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation. Our compassionate legal team is dedicated to helping asbestos exposure victims from New York, New Jersey and nationwide.

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose. Although an average of 3,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, a doctor who does not specialize in mesothelioma or asbestos exposure may not recognize this illness for what it is until it has progressed to its later stages. At this point, it may be too late for the patient to receive certain types of treatments, such as surgery. Learning the most common symptoms of mesothelioma may enable you to see a doctor early. These symptoms include:

  • Pleural effusion
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Chest pain/upper back pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness

Symptoms will vary based on the type and location of the cancer. Early detection and diagnosis are critical to treating mesothelioma. Although researchers have not yet found a cure for this disease, early intervention and multimodal treatment options can extend a patient’s lifespan and improve quality of life. If you notice any possible signs of mesothelioma in yourself or someone you love, visit a doctor and explain why you believe you may have this illness, such as known asbestos exposure at some point in your lifetime.

Early Signs of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that can affect patients in different ways. However, the life expectancy of a patient who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is generally better with early detection. If you wait too long to see a doctor, you may receive a worse prognosis and may not be eligible for certain types of treatments. Since early detection is important, look out for the following early signs of this illness:

  • Pain. Many mesothelioma patients complain of body aches and pain early on. This pain may be localized to the part of the body where the cancer exists, such as the abdomen, chest or testes.
  • Breathing problems. Patients with mesothelioma in the lining of the lungs may notice trouble breathing, such as shortness of breath. They may also have a persistent dry cough.
  • Fever. Signs of a fever, such as a high temperature, night sweats, fatigue and chills, could be an early indicator of mesothelioma.

While these symptoms may not lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis, they could point to another asbestos-related illness, such as asbestosis or lung cancer. You may also have an illness that is not related to asbestos, such as pneumonia. These diagnoses often get confused due to similar symptoms, but can be differentiated using special blood tests and tissue biopsies.

Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer of the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that encases or lines most internal organs. There are four different types of mesothelioma that derive their names based on where the disease occurs:

  • Pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the mesothelium surrounding the lungs
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma, which forms in the tissue that lines the abdominal cavity
  • Pericardial mesothelioma, which occurs in the membranous tissue around the heart
  • Testicular mesothelioma, which affects the mesothelium-lined pouch that holds the testes

Some symptoms—such as persistent fatigue and recurring fevers—are prevalent among all types of mesothelioma. However, other signs and symptoms differ based on the specific form of cancer present. Following is a closer look at common mesothelioma symptoms by mesothelioma type.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the pleura, the mesothelium that encompasses the lungs. It is the most common form of mesothelioma and accounts for more than 75 percent of all cases.

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • A painful cough
  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath and other respiratory issues
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the chest skin
  • Swelling in the face and arms
  • Fever

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, membranous tissue in the abdomen that helps maintain organ function. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common form of the disease.

Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Lumps of tissue around the abdomen
  • Swelling or fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pericardial mesothelioma afflicts the pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart. It is one of the rarest types of mesothelioma and is responsible for only about 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It is more common in men than women, and it often goes undiagnosed until it is in an advanced stage.

Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or discomfort similar to a heart attack
  • Development of heart murmur or irregular heart rhythm
  • Nausea

Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms

Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of mesothelioma, accounting for less than 1 percent of mesothelioma cases, and affects the tunica vaginalis, the mesothelium that surrounds the testes.

Indicators of testicular mesothelioma include:

  • Mass or swelling on the testicles
  • Swollen scrotum
  • Pain in the testes (not always present)
  • Sensation of heaviness or aching in the abdomen or scrotum

How to Diagnose Mesothelioma

If you are exhibiting the potential symptoms of any form of mesothelioma, tell your primary care physician what you’re feeling. Your doctor will evaluate you, ask questions about your medical history and exposure to asbestos, and run tests, such as blood tests or x-rays. You will then be referred to a mesothelioma specialist for further testing and diagnosis. 

An actual mesothelioma diagnosis is made using a tissue biopsy to determine if cancer is present. This may be followed by pulmonary testing to evaluate your lung function. At the time of your diagnosis, your doctor will tell you your type of mesothelioma and the stage of the cancer to determine your prognosis, as well as recommend a mesothelioma treatment plan based on your specific circumstances.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Mesothelioma Symptoms

Every person is different, and the effects of each cancer impact individuals differently as well. Because mesothelioma in all its forms is often unreported or misdiagnosed in its early stages, it’s important to pursue medical attention if you were exposed to asbestos and have nagging symptoms.

If you had occupational exposure or second-hand exposure to asbestos, it’s a good idea to seek a medical screening even if no signs and symptoms are present. While there are no known cures for mesothelioma, there are treatments that can extend lifespan and improve quality of life. The earlier mesothelioma therapies can begin, the better the prognosis.

Paying for Mesothelioma Treatment

From your very first doctor’s appointment for possible mesothelioma to serious surgeries and cutting-edge treatments, the cost of a mesothelioma diagnosis can be high. You may qualify for financial compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit from the person or party that exposed you to asbestos – even if the exposure occurred decades ago. If the liable party is bankrupt or no longer exists, you may be eligible for compensation through an asbestos trust fund or another source. Searching for sources of financial compensation with help from a lawyer can give your family greater peace of mind about the future during this difficult time.

Dedicated Legal Help for Mesothelioma Victims

Mesothelioma attorney Joseph P. Williams and the team at The Williams Law Firm are aggressive advocates for mesothelioma victims and their families.

If you or a family member was diagnosed with mesothelioma, we’re here to help you obtain the financial security you and your loved ones need to move forward. We understand the life-altering effects and overwhelming costs associated with mesothelioma, and our accomplished legal team has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of asbestos exposure victims.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you understand your options. Please call us today at (855) 575-6376 or contact us online. We welcome clients from New York, New Jersey and across the country.

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