Symptoms of Mesothelioma & Asbestos Related Disease
Mesothelioma can take a long time to develop – as long as 20 years or more. That is why the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose.
Early symptoms of mesothelioma can be easily mistaken for aging or for being out of shape, or with any number of other less serious medical conditions. Even when symptoms worsen, it can be difficult for patients and healthcare providers to make the connection between the symptoms now and the asbestos exposure in your past.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma by Type
Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on the severity of the disease, as well as the location of the tumors. There are three very distinct types of mesothelioma and the symptoms for each of those vary widely.
- Pleural Mesothelioma – affects the lung lining. By far, pleural mesothelioma is the most common and make up approximately 75% of all cases of mesothelioma. The symptoms of this type of mesothelioma are often mistaken for pneumonia, the flu, or even lung cancer.
Lung cancer related to smoking and asbestosis is often confused with mesothelioma. Symptoms such as coughing up blood, scarring of the lungs and tumors are commonly misdiagnosed. Studies indicate that smoking does increase the chances of developing mesothelioma.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Low oxygen levels
- Difficulty swallowing
- Night sweats
- Pleural effusion
- Pericardial – affects the lining of the heart. Fewer than 1% of all cases are pericardial mesothelioma cases. In many cases, the disease is not even diagnosed until after the patient has died. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma often are mistaken for coronary heart disease, heart failure, or pericarditis.
Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Peritoneal – affects the outer membrane of internal organs in the abdominal cavity. This type of mesothelioma accounts for nearly 25% of all cases. Symptoms vary widely because of the many different organs located within the abdominal cavity where tumors may be present. Symptoms are often mistaken for many other systemic problems.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:
- Weight loss
- Blood clots
- Peritoneal effusion
- Loss of appetite
- Low blood sugar
Because mesothelioma is relatively rare and the symptoms can be difficult to identify it is important that you consult a doctor who is familiar with the disease. At Landry & Swarr, we work closely with medical experts in the field of mesothelioma throughout the country to make sure our clients get the best care at the earliest stages of the disease as possible. If you would like a referral to a doctor, please contact us.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma by Stage
Mesothelioma symptoms are often not apparent during the early stages of the disease. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to diagnose. In general, there are 4 stages of Mesothelioma.
- Stage 1: The tumor is only found in the lining of the lungs, the abdominal cavity, or the heart and it has not spread. Most people do not experience any real symptoms of the disease and if they do, symptoms are mild.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and patients may begin to exhibit mild symptoms like shortness of breath. These symptoms are usually mild and often attributed to aging.
- Stage 3: The tumors and metastasis become more advanced. Many diagnoses are made in this stage. Symptoms begin to worsen and become more problematic.
- Stage 4: Most advanced stage of the disease and affects numerous parts of the body. Treatment during this stage is often just palliative to reduce the pain of the cancer.
Effects of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer that develops in the mesothelium, or protective lining of the human body’s internal organs. It’s most common site is the lungs and chest cavity but it can develop in the abdomen as well.
Hundreds of cancerous tumors form in the membrane of the chest cavity causing fluid to build up and reducing cardiac output. The cancer may metastasize into other parts of the body, or may result in a collapsed lung, or even cardiac failure due to fluid buildup.
Despite the advances in medicine there are no known cures and very limited treatment options for this disease. Almost all cases of mesothelioma related to asbestos exposure are fatal, so if you suspect you have the disease or have been diagnosed, please us immediately.
The disease is also sometimes referred to as malignant mesothelioma because of the tumors (or malignancy) that develops. These tumors can take the form of a large mass concentrated around one area or numerous small masses throughout the pleura.
Factors that Affect Mesothelioma Symptom Onset
There are many factors that affect and influence when the symptoms of mesothelioma will develop. Some of those factors include:
- Duration of Asbestos Exposure – individuals who were exposed to asbestos over long periods of time, usually on the job, in school or at home, will usually develop symptoms of mesothelioma sooner.
- Amount of Asbestos Exposure – no amount of asbestos exposure is safe. Yet, individuals who are exposed to large quantities of asbestos are more likely to develop symptoms sooner than those who have not been exposed to large quantities.
- Type of Asbestos – although there are no “good” asbestos types, some types of asbestos are more harmful than others. Individuals who were exposed to crocidolite asbestos may develop symptoms sooner than others.
- Stage of the Disease – symptoms of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma take a long time to develop. Depending on the stage of the disease, your symptoms may be severe or they may be non-existent.
Counseling and Advice
There is a wealth of information on these diseases available on the internet. This information is not intended as a substitute for a complete medical examination. Instead we hope you will find it a “plain spoken” description of the disease, where it comes from and what it does. If you would like more information on any of the topics discussed here please contact us immediately.
More importantly we hope that by sharing this information you will understand the
need to have an attorney who has experience with this disease to handle your case.
The consequences are nothing short of “life and death” and you deserve a team that understands the stakes and will fight to protect your rights.