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Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

March 2, 2023

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Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Were you diagnosed with pericardial, pleural, peritoneal, or testicular mesothelioma? Do you have a history of asbestos exposure or are experiencing pleural mesothelioma symptoms, like wheezing, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeat?

Malignant mesothelioma is deadly cancer beginning in the mesothelial cells of body areas covering the outer surface of internal organs (mesothelium). Generally, the mesothelium protects internal organs through special lubricating fluids allowing the organs and tissues to slide against one another. Here, our team addresses the symptoms of mesothelioma and what to look for.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent patients with early or late-stage mesothelioma to ensure they are compensated for their damages. Contact our mesothelioma lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

Mesothelioma Symptoms Associated with Exposed to Asbestos

The lubricating fluid provides easy movement of the expanding and contracting lungs inside the chest wall when breathing. The mesothelium is referred to by different names based on its location in the body, including:

  • Pleura – pleura mesothelium covers the lungs and surrounding area in the chest
  • Peritoneum – many organs in the abdominal area contain peritoneum cells
  • Pericardium – pericardium mesothelium covers the heart and surrounding area in the chest
  • Tunica vaginalis testis– These mesothelium cells line the testicles

Mesothelioma is a type of malignant cancer that usually affects the inner lining of the lungs and chest. It mainly affects the respiratory system and, in some cases, may also affect other internal organs and the lining around them.

Doctors can diagnose mesothelial tumors during the initial diagnostic process in any linings listed above (pleura, peritoneum, pericardium, and tunica vaginalis). Typically, medical professionals will shorten malignant mesothelioma, referring to the condition as ‘mesothelioma.’

Statistically, approximately 75% of all asbestos-related cancer cases involve malignant pleural mesothelioma in the chest.

Some clinical trials are available. In addition, professional medical advice sometimes recommends using a PleurX catheter that drains fluid buildup at home every few days using a small silicone catheter.

Other patients undergo radiation therapy that can shrink tumors and alleviate pain and pressure to treat nearly every type of mesothelioma.

Epithelioid, Sarcomatoid, and Biphasic (Mixed)

Medical science groups malignant mesotheliomas into three primary types based on how the cells appear during a biopsy assessment. These three types include:

  • Epithelioid – Approximately 50% of all malignant mesothelioma cases involve epithelioid areas. Fortunately, this type of malignant pleural mesothelioma has the best prognosis (survival rate) of all other types.
  • Sarcomatoid – About 10% to 20% of all diagnosed cases involve sarcomatoid (fibers) cells.
  • Biphasic (mixed) – Doctors typically referred to mixed mesothelioma (biphasic) as cancer involving epithelioid and sarcomatoid areas, accounting for 20% to 30% of all cases.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure remains the primary cause of mesothelioma in more than 80% of diagnosed cases. The cancer risk factors affect factory workers, miners, and other tradespeople who work with asbestos regularly.

However, there have also been cases where exposure to naturally occurring asbestos has led to increased cancer cases in populations such as the communities living near asbestos ore, mining centers, etc.

Erionite, a mineral with properties quite like being exposed to asbestos fibers/dust, is also known to cause mesothelioma and has been recognized as a mesothelioma-causing agent by the medical fraternity worldwide.

Can a Chest X-Ray Show Pericardial, Pleural, and Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a chest X-ray helps visualize the fluid buildup or masses within the lungs and can also help detect large tumors in the chest.

Still, physicians don’t use chest X-rays for diagnosing mesothelial cancer. Physicians instead rely on advanced CT scans and tissue biopsies to diagnose mesothelioma.

The doctor also evaluates the patient’s malignant mesothelioma symptoms, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, unexplained weight loss, and other common symptoms associated with late-stage cancer.

Life Longevity After Being Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

Peritoneal, pleural, testicular, and pericardial mesothelioma are fatal diseases with meager survival rates. The mesothelioma survival rate is usually 4-18 months after diagnosis. Unfortunately, only 8% of people diagnosed with the disease are still alive after five years from the initial diagnosis.

Although medical science has created opportunities to live longer after being diagnosed by providing medicines and other treatments that minimize malignant pleural mesothelioma symptoms. There have been cases where people lived up to 10 years or even longer after being diagnosed with the disease.

How Mesothelioma Starts

Mesothelioma starts in the lining of various internal organs. Most cases are reported around the lining of the lungs, usually caused by inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers and dust repeatedly.

Almost 75% to 80% of mesothelioma cases begin in the lungs’ lining. This type of disease is called pleural mesothelioma and starts in the chest cavity.

Over time, the patient will likely develop blood clots, a fluid buildup in the lungs (pleural effusion), persistent coughing up blood (hemoptysis), low-grade fever, fatigue, weight loss, and lower back pain.

Pleural effusion is a severe problem associated with mesothelioma or excessive fluid buildup in the chest, limiting the lungs’ ability to expand due to lining thickening.

Cancer Cells in the Lining of the Abdomen

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the stomach area, affecting the abdomen’s lining. Most symptoms associated with peritoneal mesothelioma are similar to pleural mesothelioma with fluid buildup, weight loss, pain, loss of appetite, and other symptoms.

In the early stage, peritoneal mesothelioma will result in fluid buildup in the ascites (abdominal cavity), thickening the abdominal area’s lining (peritoneal thickening).

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

People with mesothelioma may experience peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms. Some of the many symptoms include:

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Fluid buildup in the ascites
  • Seizures (rare)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gas buildup

A mesothelioma specialist will typically not stage peritoneal mesothelioma other than specifying tumor location and if it is localized or advanced.

Localized typically refers to a less aggressive cancer that remains in the same area in its early stages after its diagnosis. Advanced-stage peritoneal mesothelioma refers to metastasizing cancer spreading to other body parts.

Clinical drug trials and further testing involving advanced mesothelioma treatments are available to many hoping to extend life expectancy. In addition, mesothelioma cancer treatment could improve their prognosis during the late stages of mesothelioma.

No treatment can cure mesothelioma. However, a treatment that can kill cancer cells could minimize many of the advanced-stage symptoms of the disease, especially pleural effusions affecting the lining of the heart and lungs.

Early warning signs, when cancer begins based on blood tests and examination, could lead to an accurate diagnosis to initiate traditional and alternative treatments to control symptoms.

Mesothelioma Early Detection

Mesothelioma is almost impossible to detect early as it has a long latency period. The latency period (between exposure to asbestos fibers/dust and developing common mesothelioma symptoms) is usually 20-50 years.

The First Signs of Asbestos Exposure

First signs of asbestos exposure can take years or even decades to develop, as it’s not uncommon to feel these symptoms 20-40 years after asbestos exposure. However, certain occupations expose workers to asbestos, the leading cause of the disease out of all known risk factors.

The first signs of asbestos exposure that develop into all types of mesotheliomas include shortness of breath, dry, persistent cough, chest tightness, pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, clubbing of the fingers, nausea, and vomiting. Early symptoms may vary between many patients.

The Early Signs and Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma

This type of mesothelioma is extremely rare. Asbestos-related cancer affects the lining of the heart. Typically, people with a disease that affects their hearts will experience early signs.

Some symptoms include chest-area pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness, heart murmur, lung or shoulder problems, extreme tiredness or fatigue, persistent cough, and clubbed (swollen) fingertips (only in more advanced cases).

Is Mesothelioma Always Fatal?

Contrary to popular perception, mesothelioma is not always fatal. However, the survival rates are usually in single digits as very few can survive beyond the initial years after the diagnosis. Thus, people think that the disease is always fatal.

Whether someone survives this form of cancer depends on many factors. Contributing factors include the stage of the disease when it is detected, available treatment options, if a patient goes into remission or not if the disease spreads to other body parts, etc.

Typical treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. The doctor often recommends surgical removal or shrinkage of cancerous tumors and tissues. In addition, the treatment can alleviate related symptoms.

Mesothelioma Causes Other Than Asbestos

Asbestos exposure remains the primary cause of asbestos-related cancer worldwide. Although, research suggests that the disease can also be caused by other minerals such as erionite.

Erionite is a fibrous mineral that belongs to a group of minerals known as zeolites. Zeolites are chemically related to asbestos and have properties quite like asbestos on a molecular level.

Many have developed mesothelioma despite no asbestos exposure.

The Environmental Impact of Asbestos Exposure

Studies show that Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is abundant in erionite. As a result, most researchers believe erionite exposure caused mesothelioma among the Cappadocia’s native population.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), some patients develop the disease independently without exposure to asbestos or erionite.

In such cases, mesothelioma may advance for years without identifying any probable cause that may have caused the condition.

Doctors assume that the patient has been exposed to asbestos and doesn’t remember the exposure or there are underlying genetic reasons for developing the condition.

Unfortunately, during the late or early stage, radiation therapy and other cancer treatments may be ineffective for treating mesothelioma’s common symptoms, including fluid buildup and pleural effusions that develop in the lining of mesothelial cells.

Can Mesothelioma Be Cured If Diagnosed Early?

Unfortunately, mesothelioma cannot be cured at any stage as there is no cure for this complex disease anywhere in the world. Although, detecting the disease at Stage 1 can increase your chances of surviving longer.

Most Stage 1 patients of mesothelioma respond positively to treatment, and it’s also possible to operate on a patient surgically at this stage which further improves the chances of survival.

According to estimates, 41-45% of Stage 1 mesothelioma patients survive the initial two years, and almost 18% survive the first five years. These rates are nearly double that of other mesothelioma patients who often become aware of the disease once it’s in the second or third stage.

Does Mesothelioma Cause Back Pain?

Mesothelioma can cause chest pain or pain in the abdominal region, and sometimes a patient may feel that they have back pain.

Testing for Mesothelioma

Doctors use various tests and techniques to test for asbestos-related cancer. Computerized tomography (CT scan) of the chest or abdominal region, along with magnetic resonance imaging or MRI and tissue biopsy of the tissue that makes up the lining of the lungs, are some of the tests a doctor usually runs to check for mesothelioma.

Can Mesothelioma Spread to the Stomach?

Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused due to ingested asbestos, and it usually develops in the lining of the abdomen or stomach. However, even pleural mesothelioma can spread to the stomach in the later stages of the disease.

Common Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma differ from those of pleural mesothelioma. Usually, peritoneal mesothelioma includes the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Sudden weight loss

Can Asbestos Cause Stomach Problems?

Asbestos causes various stomach problems, including asbestosis and peritoneal mesothelioma. These severe conditions primarily affect the linings of the abdomen and stomach.

Constant and continuous ingestion of asbestos particles is the primary cause of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Can Peritoneal Mesothelioma Be Cured?

There is no known cure for peritoneal mesothelioma, although an early diagnosis can help significantly in prolonging patients’ lives. Early detection means that treatment can begin immediately and can be used to slow the speed of mesothelioma.

Statistics suggest that almost 87% of Stage 1 patients survive the first five years. In addition, there are cases where patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have gone into remission and lived for 15 years after their initial diagnosis.

The Final Stages of Mesothelioma

The final stages of pleural mesothelioma involve chest pain, shortness of breath, lumps of tissue under the skin in the chest area, unexplained weight loss, and painful coughing. At the same time, the final stages of peritoneal mesothelioma include severe abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, weight loss, and nausea.

Do Patients Cough Up Blood with Mesothelioma?

Coughing up blood (hemoptysis) is a primary symptom of pleural mesothelioma. In addition to shortness of breath, chest pain, and other symptoms, coughing up sputum mixed with blood through forceful coughing usually indicates many of the common symptoms experienced by patients.

Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The earliest signs and symptoms of mesothelioma are nearly undetectable. It is typically only after the mesothelioma patient develops an aggressive cough, and experiences shortness of breath and chest pains during the late stage that the cancer is detected.

Many doctors misdiagnose difficulty breathing and other signs of mesothelioma with other conditions, especially during the early stage of pleural mesothelioma. Typically, the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma will initiate in the lining of the lungs, affecting the chest, lungs, and thoracic cavities.

Pericardial mesothelioma is highly challenging to diagnose. Many pericardial mesothelioma symptoms and signs mimic other conditions, including heart attack, angina, and conditions that create night sweats.

Testicular mesothelioma affects the lining of the testes (tunica vaginalis). Common testicular mesothelioma symptoms include hydrocele (swelling around the scrotum), epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis), testicular pain, or a mass or lump in the scrotum.

Fortunately, testicular mesothelioma is extremely rare. Diagnosticians often misdiagnose the condition as a hernia due to specific abdominal pain symptoms.

Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Fluid buildup
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Night sweats
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Painful coughing
  • Unexplained weight loss

Hiring an Asbestos Injury Attorney to Resolve a Personal Injury Case

Are you showing signs of mesothelioma or have you been diagnosed? Are you experiencing mesothelioma symptoms like difficulty breathing, irritable bowel syndrome, difficulty swallowing, and bowel obstruction after a mesothelioma diagnosis?

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, represent mesothelioma patients suffering illness years after asbestos exposure.

Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let’s discuss the merits of your case, available clinical trials, and available mesothelioma treatments.

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