Mesothelioma is cancer caused by asbestos exposure at the workplace. It develops on the linings of the internal organs. The victim can be exposed to asbestos and still not show symptoms even after ten to fifteen years. The long latency period of this cancer is why many mesothelioma cases go undiagnosed in the early stages.
Initially, it develops as a minor module on the outer linings of the lungs (pleura), abdomen (peritoneum), and heart (pericardium). The symptoms show themselves in the later stages when it has grown to some extent and affected tissues and organs.
Common warning signs of Mesothelioma:
Some symptoms and signs of mesothelioma appear in all patients regardless of the specific location of the tumor. For instance, all mesothelioma patients may experience fatigue. But only a patient with pericardial mesothelioma may experience palpitation and arrhythmias.
1. Symptoms of pleural Mesothelioma:
Pleural mesothelioma is the most frequently diagnosed mesothelioma. More than 75 percent of mesothelioma patients are fighting pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms resemble those experienced in other respiratory illnesses.
A patient may complain about persistent cough, shortness of breath, dry cough, hoarseness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and a drastic weight reduction. Patients may also report swelling of the face and arms, muscle weakness, fever, etc.
Early diagnosis of the systems can immensely benefit the patients and the doctors. Oncologists can prescribe more aggressive treatments such as surgery to treat the tumor and improve the patients’ prognosis and quality of life.
But regardless of its type, mesothelioma treatment is very costly and can go on for an extended time. Therefore, patients need to arrange enough money to pay for the cost. One of the ways is to go with mesothelioma trust funds claim to get the compensation. It is a legal procedure that involves litigating the manufacturers or distributors of asbestos-containing products. Since their negligence caused you to suffer from this fatal cancer, you can demand compensation to pay for your treatment and fulfill other financial commitments.
2. Symptoms of peritoneal Mesothelioma:
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the next most diagnosed type of mesothelioma. Of the total, 10 to 20% of the diagnosed patients have peritoneal mesothelioma.
Since it occurs on the abdomen’s outer linings, the symptoms are often mistaken for issues in the stomach and other digestive conditions. Initially, physicians might diagnose the issue as menstrual disorders like fibroids or irritable bowel syndrome.
However, the following symptoms could also mean the patients have peritoneal mesothelioma simmering inside them; the symptoms are abdominal pain or swelling, abdominal fluid build-up, nausea and vomiting, constipation, unexpected weight loss, and loss of appetite.
Doctors can prescribe multiple chemotherapy drugs to decrease cancer growth and shrink peritoneal mesothelioma tumors. Some of the commonly prescribed drugs are carboplatin, pemetrexed, and gemcitabine. Doctors are also witnessing positive results with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).
3. Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma:
Similar to pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma can also be mistaken for heart disease.
Approximately 1% of the total diagnosed cases account for pericardial mesothelioma, and common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart murmurs, palpitations, etc.
The patient’s life expectancy with this type of mesothelioma ranges from six weeks to 15 months. Early diagnosis can improve the symptoms and the prognosis.
4. Symptoms of testicular Mesothelioma:
This is the rarest mesothelioma. So far, there are only less than 100 diagnosed cases of testicular mesothelioma. The tumor builds up on the outer linings of the testes called tunica vaginalis.
Like other types, there are high chances of misdiagnosis in this type of mesothelioma too. The early signs are mistaken for an illness such as epididymitis, characterized by the swelling of both testicles.
The symptoms of testicular mesothelioma include scrotal swelling, a lump in the scrotum, testicular pain, and Hydrocele (fluid in the scrotum).
When should you contact a doctor for mesothelioma?
If you have dealt with asbestos in the past, early signs, including shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, cough, shoulder or abdominal pain, etc., must not be brushed aside.
The earlier you contact a doctor, the sooner you can start your treatment and improve the quality of your life.
Early diagnosis also makes you eligible for life-saving therapies and treatments that may not be available to you in the later stages.
How can you be sure of having mesothelioma?
You might be displaying the signs and symptoms mentioned above, but you still need to be sure of your health status. A biopsy is a way to confirm tumor build-up in your body. But even before more sophisticated tests, the doctor may develop suspicion looking at your general signs during a routine examination, blood tests, or an X-ray scan.
But since the symptoms resemble the signs associated with less severe diseases, these early tests and hunches might not be enough. Therefore, the doctor may ask for x-rays and CT scans in addition to a biopsy. Researchers are at work to improve the efficiency of the diagnostic tests for an early and accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Why is it difficult to diagnose mesothelioma in the early stages?
The biggest reason for the misdiagnosis of mesothelioma is the small size of the tumor. In the early stages, tumor size is not significant enough to cause serious problems for the victim. It takes some time for cancer to reach the third and fourth stages and majorly impact the body.
Each symptom of mesothelioma is linked to a specific change happening inside the body. For instance, the patient experiences difficulty breathing because mesothelioma on the pleural lining restricts the full expansion of the lungs. The chest pain is due to the tumor’s attack on the chest walls and nerves.
Shortness of breath happens due to the pain caused by the tumor development inside the body. The pain can restrict how deep a person breaths. The pleura has more pain receptors than the lungs. Therefore, it feels pain when the tumor puts pressure on the pleura.
You should never take early signs and symptoms of mesothelioma lightly. If you have an asbestos exposure history, you must consult an oncologist because, so far, asbestos exposure is the only definite cause of mesothelioma.
The doctor may look at the signs and symptoms your body displays and ask for other tests to reach a conclusion. As soon as your mesothelioma diagnosis is confirmed, file for asbestos funds claims to arrange for the money.
Simultaneously, discuss the treatment plan with your doctor to start an early treatment.