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. The only way to know for sure if you have mesothelioma is through a doctor's diagnosis.

However, there are some symptoms that can indicate that someone has it, as well as some risk factors to know about.

Risk Factors of Mesothelioma

The main 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 common are at an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma later in life. People who worked as insulators, pipefitters, carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers, boiler tenders, plumbers, and mechanics who worked with asbestos products also have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. 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.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

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

The most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, affects the pleura, which is the membrane that surrounds the lungs.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

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

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

What to Do if You Have Symptoms

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 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.