Early Stages of Mesothelioma Symptoms

One of the problems with diagnosing mesothelioma is the lack of symptoms in the early stages. There is no pain, and the cancer develops slowly over a very long period of time. Some patients are diagnosed more than 40 years after exposure. The only identified cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, usually at a job site. Some victims live in an area near a mining operation that is heavily contaminated with asbestos, and some suffer from second-hand exposure when a parent or sibling brings asbestos fibers home on their clothing. It’s important to pinpoint where and how you were exposed. The doctor will want to know, and if you wish to bring a lawsuit to pay for your medical treatments, this information is necessary.

In the latter stages of the disease, symptoms become apparent. Once the cancerous tumors reach a certain size, patients often experience breathing difficulties or pain caused by pressure on the organs or lungs. Once these symptoms manifest, the prognosis is usually hard to face. The symptoms indicate a very advanced stage of cancer, and treatment options for late-stage mesothelioma are limited.

Pleural mesothelioma –cancer of the lining that protects the lungs – is the most common type, accounting for about 75% of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the abdomen, is the next most common form of the disease. Other types of mesothelioma, including pericardial mesothelioma, are even rarer.


There is no test for early detection of mesothelioma, even if you are certain you were exposed. If you do know of asbestos exposure, tell your doctor. He may recommend x-rays or CT scans that can be compared over time to check for changes or anomalies. Unfortunately, this is not a proven method of detection.

Recent medical discoveries are encouraging. Mesothelioma has specific markers in the blood that may one day be used to identify and isolate mesothelioma, but the science is still in the early stages. Researchers hope that these breakthroughs will lead to a reliable screening process for mesothelioma in the near future.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

• Back or chest pain
• Persistent cough
• Shortness of breath
• Hoarse voice
• Sudden, unexplained weight loss – more than 10% of body weight
• High body temperature and profuse sweating
• Trouble swallowing
• Unusual weakness
• Face and arm swelling
• Clubbed fingers or nails – very rare

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

• Abdominal pain and distension or swelling
• Sudden, unexplained weight loss – more than 10% of body weight
• Nausea and vomiting

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

• Irregular heart palpitations (arrhythmia)
• Pain and pressure in the chest
• Heart murmur
• Dry, hacking cough
• Breathing difficulty, even when resting
• Difficulty breathing in a prone position (lying down)
• Unusual fatigue
• Night sweating and fever