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Mesothelioma Symptoms and Signs: Sudden Killer

A mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the protective sac that covers most of the internal organs of the body. In this disease, the cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and they start dividing randomly. The early mesothelioma symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath and chest, shoulder or abdominal pain.

Mostly, the preliminary attack of Mesothelioma takes place in the pleura or peritoneum and it is seen that majority of the Mesothelioma patients have a history of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma symptoms early sign is relatively rare with a rate of about 2000 new cases per year in the United States.

Though there is no specific age or sex for Mesothelioma, aged men seem to be more prone to catch the disease. As 70% to 80% of the case histories of patients reveal, Mesothelioma sym[toms has a strong connection with asbestos exposure.

Different Stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma tumor cell type plays an important role in how rapidly the disease spreads. Mesothelioma tumors made up of epithelioid cells metastasize more slowly than tumors made up of sarcomatoid cells. A doctor will use image tests and biopsies to determine how far the cancer has spread.

Stage 1

  • Has not spread beyond the lining of the lungs
  • Doctors can remove it with surgery and extend life expectancy
  • Most treatment options are available, and best prognosis
  • Tumour is limited to the lining of one lung
  • The life expectancy of a stage 1 patient ranges from 30 to 40 months

Mesothelioma Symptoms of Stage 1

  • Chest pain
  • Chest pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Nausea

Stage 2

  • Known as an ‘early-stage cancer’
  • Has not spread far from where it first appeared in the lining of the lungs
  • Those diagnosed with stage 2 mesothelioma are eligible for curative treatment
  • The tumour is limited to one side of the chest
  • In more advanced cases, it may have spread to the diaphragm or the surface of the lung
  • Patients may respond well to treatment due to the limited spread of the cancer

Mesothelioma Symptoms of Stage 2

  • Chest pain
  • Chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough
  • Weight loss

Stage 3

  • Some treatment options are available, which can improve the quality of life
  • Treatment options are still potentially life-saving
  • Cancer has spread from the lining of the lung the chest wall and lung
  • Cancer cells have invaded the lymph nodes on one side of the chest

Mesothelioma Symptoms: of Stage 3

  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Pained breathing
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath

Stage 4

  • At this stage, the cancer has spread throughout the chest wall, pericardium and diaphragm
  • The cells have invaded the lymph nodes located far from where the tumour first appeared
  • Due to the advanced stage of the cancer, doctors will usually use treatment to improve a patient’s quality of life
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Mesothelioma Symptoms: of Stage 4

  • Symptoms are more noticeable than any other stage
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Severe weight loss
  • Build-up of fluid in the lining of the abdomen Source

Asbestos Mesothelioma Symptoms

Knowing the first Mesothelioma symptoms and signs and knowing the history of asbestos exposure, can help confirm an early mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma symptoms early diagnosis can help individuals qualify for life-extending therapies that may be unavailable to patients in later stages of mesothelioma treatment.

Mesothelioma Symptoms and Signs

One peculiarity of Mesothelioma symptoms is that it has a long latency period of about 15-50 years, which means that the Mesothelioma symptoms may start appearing 30 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Moreover, Mesothelioma symptoms are often not specific i.e. they are the same in the case of several other diseases.

This is why Mesothelioma tests are very important to dispel the incidence of the disease if relevant symptoms crop up. Speaking of Mesothelioma symptoms, three prominent Mesothelioma symptoms cannot be overlooked.

These Mesothelioma symptoms involve

  • Pain while breathing or coughing
  • Gasping for breath and a persistent cough that may result in sputum streaked with blood

Besides, exhaustion, weight loss and appetite loss are some of the other contributing symptoms. Other very rare Mesothelioma symptoms are hoarse voice, swelling of the face or the neck, problem in swallowing and pain around the rib area.

Speaking of symptoms, there are three prominent symptoms of Mesothelioma that cannot be overlooked. These involve pain while breathing or coughing, gasping for breath and a persistent cough that may result in sputum streaked with blood. Besides, exhaustion, weight loss and appetite loss are some of the other contributing symptoms.

Other very rare symptoms are hoarse voice, swelling of the face or the neck, problem in swallowing and pain around the rib area. However, depending upon the location of the cancerous tumours (pleura or peritoneum) the Mesothelioma symptoms vary in the case of pleural and peritoneal Mesothelioma.

In pleural Mesothelioma, the fluid gets accumulated in the pleura and leads to

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent coughing
  • Pain in the chest
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Pain in the lower back and side of chest Husky voice
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Fever

Cancer in the lining of the abdomen is what we know as peritoneal Mesothelioma. Because of the fluid retention in the abdominal cavity, there is subsequent abdominal pain and swelling.

Noticeable peritoneal Mesothelioma symptoms are listed as follows

  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Build-up of fluid in the abdomen
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Abdominal mass and fever

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms By Type

Some types of mesothelioma share similar symptoms, while other signs of the cancer are unique to the tumour location. Fatigue can be common to pleural, peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma cancers. However, pericardial mesothelioma is the only type that routinely leads to symptoms of heart palpitations and arrhythmias.

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Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Early signs of mesothelioma can resemble other respiratory diseases such as pneumonia or the flu. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, which forms on the soft tissue lining the lungs, include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough or wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Reduced chest expansion (difficulty breathing)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps of tissue under the skin of the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swelling of the face and arms

When symptoms are identified and treated quickly, patients may benefit from a higher quality of life and longer life. Symptom control is a vital component of comprehensive treatment for pleural mesothelioma.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Early signs of peritoneal mesothelioma can be mistaken for digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or menstrual disorders like fibroids. Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, which forms on the soft tissue lining the abdomen, include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal fluid buildup (ascites)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite

Doctors can prescribe chemotherapy drugs, such as pemetrexed, cisplatin, carboplatin and gemcitabine, to shrink peritoneal mesothelioma tumours and slow cancer growth.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Early signs of pericardial mesothelioma can be mistaken for heart disease. Common symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Heart murmurs

This type of Mesothelioma symptoms develops in the lining around the heart called the pericardium. It is one of the rarest forms of the disease. Symptoms stem from the thickening of the pericardium, which can make it harder for the heart to pump efficiently.

Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms

Early signs of testicular mesothelioma can be mistaken for injury or illnesses such as epididymitis, which involves inflammation of the testicles. Common symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include:

  • Hydrocele (fluid in the scrotum)
  • Testicular pain
  • Swollen testes
  • Lump in scrotum

A lump in the testes is the most common sign of testicular mesothelioma the rarest of all types of mesothelioma. It accounts for less than 1% of all mesothelioma cases.

How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed

Mesothelioma symptoms are the driving force that brings patients to the doctor to begin the diagnostic process. Because mesothelioma symptoms most commonly develop in stage 3 or stage 4, most patients don’t go to the doctor until cancer has progressed to a late stage.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma early provides a better chance of qualifying for aggressive cancer treatments that may improve survival. This is because it does not usually produce such signs until much later in the disease process, it is difficult to diagnose mesothelioma in stage 1 or 2 based on symptoms alone.

Mesothelioma Symptoms and Signs

In some instances, early mesothelioma symptoms can produce enough pleural fluid around the lung to cause shortness of breath or cough without having spread.

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How to Cope and Manage Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma symptoms result from cancer itself and may be similar to some of the side effects of cancer treatment. Side effects of cancer treatment usually diminish days to weeks after treatment ends. Mesothelioma symptoms tend to progress as the cancer advances. Symptom management is critical to the quality of life. You can talk to your oncologist about a referral to a palliative care specialist.

Oncologists specialize in symptom management and maintaining or improving quality of life. Many cancer centres now offer palliative cancer care that may include prescription medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy and other approaches that improve your daily life and keep your symptoms in control.

Managing Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Alternative Therapies: Supportive complementary and alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and mind-body therapies, are shown to help patients manage pain, anxiety and nausea.
  • PleurX Catheter: This allows the patient to drain the fluid at home every 2-3 days with the help of a small silicone catheter.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy alone will not cure mesothelioma, but it can shrink tumors and relieve pain and pressure.
  • Communication: Let your doctor know about changes in type or intensity of your symptoms. This will allow your doctor to recommend other procedures or therapies that will significantly lessen discomfort and pain.
  • Mesothelioma Specialists: Mesothelioma is a rare disease and seeking care from a mesothelioma speciality doctor can improve your access to cutting-edge therapies proven to improve symptoms and prolong survival after diagnosis.

Treatment plans may include participation in clinical trials or prescriptions for immunotherapy medications. While success rates for immunotherapy treatment vary for each patient, these medications have shown promise and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved

  • Keytruda
  • Opdivo
  • Yervoy for malignant mesothelioma treatment.

Mesothelioma’s treatment depends upon several factors like location of cancer, stage of the disease, patient’s age and general health. Standard treatments that are carried out to cure the disease include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined to achieve better results.

Thus it is worthwhile to mention, as all doctors say that to fight a disease we need to find the symptoms first. So be aware of the Mesothelioma symptoms and consult the doctor at the very onset for immediate treatment.

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