Mesothelioma is a form of a cancer that has been attributed to prolonged exposure of asbestos, a material used in many older buildings and fabrics. After exposure to asbestos, it does take some time for symptoms to appear, and often the cancer has by then done more damage that anyone would have liked. Still, knowing the symptoms that this terrible disease creates will help people infected with it to catch it fast enough for doctors to work on helping with the damage it has caused.
There are two main types of mesothelioma: pleural and peritoneal. Pleural mesothelioma affects the chest cavity and the lungs, attacking the protective membrane surrounding the two areas. Peritoneal mesothelioma, on the other hand, is a cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity. It is much less common than the pleural form, making up only one-fifth to one-third of the mesothelioma cases. This form of cancer still takes many years to show up, but is quicker to do so than pleural mesothelioma. The symptoms begin to show 20-30 years after exposure to asbestos rather than 30-40 years.
Symptoms for peritoneal mesothelioma begin with very nondescript occurrences. This could include some cramps, coughing, fever, etc. Basically, they will be symptoms that could be contributed to a number of other, more common, ailments. However, as the cancer progresses, more pronounced symptoms will occur, mainly relating to the abdomen and stomach. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, abdominal mass, increased abdominal girth, distention of the abdomen, fluid in the abdomen, a higher fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and digestive disturbances. Often, this form of cancer will be found incidentally when patients go in for gallbladder or pelvic treatments.
Once the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma have presented themselves, doctors need to actually find the cancer in order to make a proper diagnosis. ACT is performed and if cancer is present, it will come to bear in two ways. The first way is referred to as “dry”, meaning the cancer has lumped itself into one large mass and there is little or no fluid to be found. The “wet” method is the opposite. Fluid can be found collected in the abdomen and the cancer has been broken up into a number of smaller masses throughout the abdominal cavity.
All of this only occurs, though, if the symptoms of the peritoneal mesothelioma are caught. Since the symptoms that do occur involve the abdominal cavity, it is easy for many people to attribute them to the more common abdominal problems. That’s why it’s important to always check with your doctor. Stomach pains could occur for many reasons, and if they do so especially with the other listed symptoms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The symptoms for both types of mesothelioma start off years after the cancer has begun to grow, making it a difficult to catch the disease in its early stages. This is why mesothelioma is so dangerous. It often can’t be treated because, by the time it’s found, it has already become malignant. And even when the symptoms do start coming to bear, they often aren’t linked with cancer right away, because they are the same symptoms that can be found tied to other, more common diseases. Coughing, fevers, and cramps aren’t something most people rush to the doctor for, unless they’re out of hand. Most of the times people think it’s just the flu, and it won’t be until the symptoms get very bad that the doctors will come around to find it’s cancer.
If you’re worried about the symptoms being part of your own life, and you know you have worked with asbestos in the past, you should get checked out just in case. Even if you only worked with asbestos twenty years ago, you still may be starting to exhibit mesothelioma symptoms. The earlier you are able to catch the tumors the better of a chance you have at removing them. Mesothelioma is a dangerous cancer, and once you know you have it you have very little time to try and stop it.
As more research is going into mesothelioma, new ways at catching the symptoms and treating the cancer itself are coming out. While there is no magic cure for mesothelioma, simply being aware of yourself, your body, and the symptoms that those who suffer from mesothelioma go through, you could be much safer in the long run.