What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma patient talking to doctor, closeup of patient hand. Man In Consultation, Dialogue with doctor

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It takes years, often decades, for mesothelioma to develop after a person has been exposed to asbestos. That means there are still cases of this aggressive cancer which is caused by asbestos exposure from decades ago. A doctor's diagnosis is the only way to know if you have mesothelioma.

However, some symptoms can indicate that someone has it, and there are some risk factors to know about. We'll cover both here. 

Symptoms of Mesothelioma By Type

The symptoms of mesothelioma are often associated with which type of mesothelioma you have been diagnosed with. General symptoms, such as weight loss, fever, or fatigue, are commonly attributed to all forms of mesothelioma. These are common symptoms, but not everyone with mesothelioma will have these issues. Some patients may see problems with blood clotting, begin having night sweats, have seizures, or feel run down or generally unwell.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

The most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, affects the pleura, the membrane surrounding the lungs.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Pain in the chest area
  • Fluid buildup
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lumps in the chest area
  • A cough 

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

The second most common form of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, affects the peritoneum, which is the membrane that encases the abdomen.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Fluid buildup
  • Bowel issues
  • Nausea

Some other less-common types of mesothelioma, including pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the heart, and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis, which affects the testicles, may include different symptoms. However, these two types are uncommon, so specific symptoms aren't well known.

Other mesothelioma symptoms may develop that seem unrelated, and symptoms may change based on the stage of mesothelioma. It's important to talk to your doctor if you experience any health issues that seem out of the ordinary. It is especially important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have known risk factors, like asbestos exposure -- even if that exposure was many years ago.

Risk Factors of Mesothelioma

The cause of mesothelioma is breathing in asbestos fibers. The key risk factor associated with developing mesothelioma is direct asbestos exposure, usually from being around asbestos products on the job. People who worked in industrial settings where asbestos products were standard are at an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma later in life.

People who worked with asbestos products also have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, including those who worked as

  • insulators
  • pipefitters
  • carpenters
  • electricians
  • sheet metal workers
  • boiler tenders
  • plumbers
  • mechanics 

Additionally, living in the same house as someone who worked with asbestos may increase your chances of developing mesothelioma since asbestos fibers are known to migrate to a person’s home from their clothing when they return home from work.

See our Complete Guide on Mesothelioma 

What to Do if You Have Symptoms

If you have symptoms of mesothelioma, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer, and early detection and treatment are crucial for the best possible outcome. Your first step should be to call your doctor. Be ready to report all symptoms and how long you've had them. From there, you may get tested and receive a diagnosis. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but there are treatments available.

Learn more about screening & testing for mesothelioma >>>

Find out treatment options for mesothelioma >>>

See how secondary exposure happens and who is at risk >>>

Getting Legal Assistance

If you do have mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation through asbestos litigation. Get answers to your questions about claims and lawsuits here, or fill out a free case evaluation, and we will get back to you with your options.


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