Mesothelioma Symptoms Can Be Misleading
One of the great tragedies of mesothelioma is that mesothelioma symptoms
often mimic those of other diseases. Many people go undiagnosed, or are misdiagnosed, for some time after they first show symptoms because they are so similar to those of other diseases.
In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms don’t become noticeable until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. Because some people attribute the symptoms to a variety of other illnesses and others don’t think to tell their doctor they were exposed extensively to asbestos years earlier, correct diagnosis is often delayed until the illness has become difficult if not impossible to treat.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
The most common symptoms are related to Pleural Mesothelioma, which is more common than any other type:
- Shortness of breath, especially after exertion or activity
- A dry, unproductive cough that lasts for long periods of time
- Fatigue that isn’t tied to a specific infection and isn’t accompanied by a fever
- In some rare cases, there may be night sweats or a mildly elevated temperature
- Fluid in the lungs (pleural effusion), usually identified by x-raying the lungs
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Because so many of the above mesothelioma symptoms resemble those of pneumonia, misdiagnosis isn’t uncommon, adding to the patients’ burden as they are treated incorrectly early on.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
The widely different symptoms for various forms of mesothelioma only add to the confusion. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial cells and lining of the abdominal area. The symptoms include a swollen abdomen, nausea, swelling of the hands and feet and weight loss. While these are common signs of a possible cancer, it sometimes isn’t identified as abdominal mesothelioma until some time down the line.
Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma
The rarest form of this cancer is pericardial mesothelioma. It causes symptoms such as shortness of breath combined with severe chest pains and an irregular heart beat. It can feel like any number of heart-related conditions and may be diagnosed only after other possibilities are ruled out.
Because the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer vary so much and this form of cancer is somewhat rarer than others, it’s important to give your doctor any information you have which can speed up a diagnosis. If you have ever been exposed to asbestos, even for short periods of time or by indirect contact, your doctor must be told. It can make the difference between a few months of life and several years, depending on how soon your mesothelioma symptoms are diagnosed and treatment is begun.
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