5 Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Author:
Anthony Waddington
Senior Associate Solicitor, Industrial Disease Claims
Date:
04/01/2019
This content was updated 12/07/22.

 

When speaking to our clients after their diagnosis with mesothelioma, we see that it can be particularly difficult for them and their loved ones to deal with. People may struggle to begin moving forward, whilst also feeling confused as to where or how the asbestos exposure happened.

Having an early diagnosis is always more helpful as the options for life extending treatments are greater and it offers the person concerned an opportunity to come to terms with their illness and make preparations for care etc. before the symptoms progress.

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We wanted to highlight the main symptoms linked to mesothelioma which we feel everybody should be aware of so that should you have known asbestos exposure in your past and you develop such symptoms your doctor can investigate appropriately.

Please note that the list of symptoms below is not exhaustive and you may display none of the symptoms or any one of them in isolation.

It is worth bearing in mind that Mesothelioma is a disease that may begin to develop many years after the exposure to asbestos has taken place, usually more than 20 or 30 years.

Common medical thinking suggests that Mesothelioma may begin to develop up to 10 years before any symptoms occur. It is also worth remembering that Mesothelioma is thankfully a rare disease even in those who have been exposed to asbestos.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that’s almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Sadly, there’s no known cure for the disease and the diagnosis is almost always terminal. Despite the deadly nature of the illness, it takes the smallest amount of asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma.

There are four kinds of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma, which affects the lungs. Approximately 80% of all mesothelioma cases are pleural.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal cavity. This is the second most common type of mesothelioma, responsible for 15 – 20% of all cases.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma, which affects the heart. This type of mesothelioma is quite rare and responsible for roughly 1% of cases.
  • Testicular mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the testicles. This is the rarest form of mesothelioma, responsible for less than 1% of all cases.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Pain

Mesothelioma leaves people in a lot of pain, but where the pain strikes will depend on which type of mesothelioma is present. With pleural mesothelioma the pain will be in the chest, side or back. With peritoneal mesothelioma, the pain will be around the abdomen. As the illness worsens, the level of pain can become very severe, which will likely require extremely strong painkillers.

Breathlessness

This is a common symptom particularly with pleural mesothelioma and is often the first symptom that people recognise. The breathlessness usually occurs as a result of fluid building up in the pleural spaces which restricts the lungs’ ability to expand properly. This breathlessness can be rapid in its onset, occurring seemingly out of nowhere, and can be very acute or it can occur gradually.

People with fluid on the lung will usually have a procedure to have this fluid drained to making breathing easier. Where the fluid builds up repeatedly some people will undergo a further procedure called Talc Pleurodesis to stop the build-up of fluid from reoccurring. As the illness progresses, it will usually become increasingly difficult to carry out normal tasks, such as walking short distances without breathlessness.

Fatigue

Tiredness and a lack of energy is common when someone is suffering with mesothelioma. Despite this, many people who suffer from the illness will find it difficult to sleep at night. It creates a viscous cycle of consistently feeling tired, on top of the body trying to deal with the cancer and the other symptoms.

Weight Loss

Mesothelioma in most instances will result in a loss of appetite. As a result, sudden or rapid weight loss is a common symptom. As well as the physical impact it leaves on a person, the emotional effects of being diagnosed with a terminal cancer and the resulting pain can also be lead to a lack of appetite and weight loss.

Night Sweats

Another common symptom is profuse sweating, which will occur mostly at night.

How to Diagnose Mesothelioma

Diagnosing mesothelioma is very difficult and will usually require referral to a specialist, in some cases it will only confirmed after a person has tragically passed away.

Mesothelioma can be diagnosed during lifetime however usually following chest X-rays, a CT scan, cytology (testing of the drained fluid) and biopsy.

If you know you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the past and recognise any of the symptoms listed above, we advise that you get in touch with your GP as soon as possible and mention your past exposure to asbestos along with your symptoms.

You should bear in mind that many of the symptoms associated with Mesothelioma can also be associated with other conditions. Mesothelioma is thankfully rare even amongst those exposed to asbestos. It does however always help to make your treating doctors aware that you are at a greater risk of an asbestos disease by reason of your past exposure to it, so it is something they can consider when carrying out investigations and treatment.

How we can Help

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to claim compensation, to help cover the cost of your care. Our Asbestos Claims team have successfully represented several people who have been exposed to asbestos, as well as providing them and their families with extensive support.

If you have any questions or concerns around mesothelioma, or asbestos exposure, contact our Asbestos Claims Solicitors today. We may be able to deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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