A disease that has only started to come to light in recent years, mesothelioma is a cancer that normally presents itself in malignant form and results in tumours in and around vital organs of the body. The definition of the word mesothelioma is literally cancer of the mesothelium (-oma being a medical term for cancer). The mesothelium is the sac that lines and protects vital organs such as the heart and the lungs, and this disease causes the cells of the lining to become abnormal and malignant.
The result of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma comes in three forms: pleural mesothelioma; peritoneal mesothelioma; and pericardial mesothelioma. All three types have a variety of associated symptoms, and there are some symptoms that are common to all three types of the disease. In all cases of the disease, sufferers are unlikely to even realise that there is a problem until many years after they have actually contracted mesothelioma from regular exposure to asbestos.
The symptoms of all types of mesothelioma do not generally manifest for several decades after contraction. This can make the disease difficult to diagnose and all too often is too late to save the patient by the time a diagnosis is made.
The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This is where the cancer affects the lungs and the protective lining and cavity of the lungs. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma result from pleural effusion, which is a build up of fluid between the lung lining and the chest cavity. Sufferers of pleural mesothelioma may experience some or all of the following symptoms: difficulty in breathing, difficulty in swallowing, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, weight loss, fever, coughing up of blood, and rasping.
(Click Here For More Information On Pleural Mesothelioma)
A rarer form of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma. This is where the cancer affects the stomach and abdomen. The cancer can start in the abdominal area and spread to other parts of the body, but the tumours that press against the wall of the abdomen can cause some or all of the following symptoms: abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, breathing problems, chest pain, bowel obstruction, anaemia, fever, and blood clotting abnormalities.
(Click Here For More Information On Peritoneal Mesothelioma)
The last and the rarest of the mesothelioma types is pericardial mesothelioma. This is where the cancer affects the heart and the cavity that surrounds the heart. The tumours affecting pericardial mesothelioma patients can cause some or all of these symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, persistent coughing, and palpitations.
(Click Here For More Information On Pericardial Mesothelioma)
There are also cases of other asbestos related diseases such as asbestosis and respiratory problems that have stemmed from exposure to this potentially fatal material. Anyone that has worked with asbestos should see their doctor if they have any onset of this type of problem or if they are concerned and have doubts.
As you can see, the symptoms for all three types of mesothelioma are non-specific, which means that they could be the result of a number of more common diseases that are associated with the same symptoms. Many of the symptoms are the same as those displayed by viral pneumonia patients, and the disease if often mistaken for something else.
If your doctor is unaware that you have been exposed to asbestos, he or she is unlikely to assume that you may have mesothelioma and will instead test for a number of other more common diseases that are associated with your symptoms. People who have worked with asbestos or who have close contact with someone that works with asbestos should therefore always be vigilant in looking out for any of these symptoms and seeking medical advice if any or all of the symptoms manifest. They should also make their doctor aware that they have worked with asbestos so that no further time is wasted in testing for other types of disease. Much of the delay in diagnosing mesothelioma comes from lack of information and awareness on both the part of the doctor and the patient.
However, it is up to the patient, who is aware of the asbestos exposure, to increase the chances of a speedy diagnosis by making the doctor aware of the circumstances and keeping an eye out of any tell tale signs that mesothelioma may be present.