Fighting a Rare Cancer By Understanding its Symptoms

In the early stages, mesothelioma is very asymptomatic. Very few patients notice symptoms in stage I or II of the disease. However, as the disease progresses to stage III or IV, patients begin to notice a series of complications. Once they occur, they tend to intensify rapidly.

Symptoms result from tumor growth

The majority of mesothelioma symptoms are a result of tumor growth. As it grows, it puts more pressure on the nearby organs affected. As a result, most symptoms are located primarily where the tumor is located. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that should not be ignored.

For patients with pleural mesothelioma, the symptoms are concentrated in the lungs. For patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, symptoms occur in the abdomen. However, once the tumor metastasizes or expands into other organs, patients may notice symptoms in different parts of their body. These are the symptoms associated with the last stage of the disease and, in most cases, they are neurological.

Generally speaking, the symptoms of mesothelioma, such as fatigue, are not limited to a specific area of the body and these can appear at any time during the illness. Most symptoms, especially in the early stages, are quite basic and unclear. Doctors can interpret these as symptoms of another, slightly more common disease and may even treat it as such. Most patients are not diagnosed with mesothelioma until such time as the initial treatments fail completely.

Symptoms related to pleural mesothelioma

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are mainly respiratory. In most patients, the first two symptoms are chest pains of a varying nature and dyspnea (difficulty breathing). In approximately 30 percent of cases, this difficulty in breathing occurs jointly with pleural effusions but without chest pain.

Pleural effusions are usually responsible for chest pain and difficulty breathing. This occurs when too much fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity. In stages III and IV of pleural mesothelioma, patients may notice the following symptoms:

  • Hoarseness when trying to speak
  • Whistles when coughing
  • Difficulty to swallow
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating

If the tumors grow enough, patients may also notice lumps in the chest or near the shoulders. This is why doctors stress the importance of routine screenings and an early diagnosis.