Learn about the symptoms of the different types of Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Symptoms and Diagnosis
Because malignant mesothelioma is so slow to develop, there are few, if any, recognizable symptoms in the early stages. Due to the fact that different parts of the body are affected by the two principal types of mesothelioma, the symptoms for each one are different.
- Low back or chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Hoarse voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent sweats
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing these symptoms, promptly consult your physician, with the understanding that there is no cause for immediate alarm. These symptoms are associated with many other illnesses, as well. If you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past, discuss this with your doctor. He or she may recommend one or more of these diagnostic methods:
A thorough examination coupled with a detailed medical history is the starting point for diagnosis. Your doctor will look for fluid in the chest cavity as a symptom of possible pleural mesothelioma. This fluid sometimes results in a diagnosis of pneumonia. Fluid in the abdominal cavity (Ascites) can be a symptom of peritoneal mesothelioma. Likewise, fluid in the pericardium may be an indicator of pericardial mesothelioma.
Fluid Sample Analysis
Any of the fluids described above can be drawn by inserting a needle into the affected area. The fluid can, then, be analyzed for its composition as well as the presence of cancer cells.
X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans may assist in identifying the presence, location and size of any cancer, including any of the forms of malignant mesothelioma.
Tissue may be obtained using a thoracoscope or laparoscope, depending on the part of the body which is affected. These samples are, then, biopsied to determine if a tumor is malignant.
A thoracotomy for the chest cavity or laparoscopy for the abdominal cavity involves a more invasive surgical opening. It allows for the removal of a larger sample of the tumor, or the removal of the tumor altogether.
Other Diagnostic Methods
Lymph node analysis may be used to distinguish lung cancer from malignant mesothelioma. Chemical analysis of fluids and tumors also may be used to distinguish mesothelioma from other types of cancer.