Early indications of mesothelioma start out subtle, and can often be mistaken for other more common illnesses and ailments. Early detection of mesothelioma is paramount to a more favorable prognosis. Those who have been exposed to asbestos are encouraged to speak with their medical professional concerning the likelihood of a mesothelioma diagnosis, as well as getting routine health exams and cancer screenings. Symptoms vary slightly depending on the location of the initial tumors. In general, preliminary symptoms include pain in the chest, and shortness of breath which is caused by fluid buildup in the lungs.
Signs Mesothelioma Has Progressed
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, occurring in three out of four cases. Pleural mesothelioma originates in the chest or lungs. Symptoms common to this form of mesothelioma include:
- Pain in the chest, side, or back
- Weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling of the face and arms
- Muscle weakness
Peritoneal mesothelioma is located in the abdominal cavity with slightly varied symptoms. However, signs indicating mesothelioma can overlap. Those suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma specifically are likely to experience:
- Abdominal Pain
- Swelling or fluid in the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
An early diagnosis of mesothelioma allows patients more treatment options and a better life expectancy. The American Cancer Society states that “in recent years, doctors have found that people with mesothelioma often have high levels of certain substances in their blood, including osteopontin and soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs). Currently tests monitoring these levels are more likely to be used as a means of charting the disease’s progression after a patient has already been diagnosed. Scientists and researchers are hoping that eventually our knowledge concerning SMRPs and osteopontin will prove useful in detecting the mesothelioma earlier, before the cancer has a chance to metastasize.
A physical exam can provide more information regarding the possibility of mesothelioma. If a doctor or health professional suspects mesothelioma or other illness caused by exposure to asbestos they generally use a variation of imaging scans, blood tests, and other procedures such as biopsies to confirm the diagnosis.