Decades of medical studies and legal documents have shown that mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure occurring when its fibers either inhaled or ingested. The three primary types of mesothelioma are pleural, peritoneal and pericardial.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms
The most common form of mesothelioma is called pleural mesothelioma. This form of the disease affects the lining of the lungs (known as the visceral pleura) and causes fluid to build up between the lungs and the diaphragm.
Patients who receive a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis usually report symptoms similar to those of pneumonia, including shortness of breath, chest pain and persistent cough. Although less common, some patients may report other pleural mesothelioma symptoms. These can include fever, night sweats and weight loss.
Under normal conditions, the body produces a small amount of fluid, which acts as a lubricant between the pleura of the lungs and diaphragm. In a patient with mesothelioma, diseased cells create too much fluid to form, causing pain and other respiratory mesothelioma symptoms.
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms
Peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common than pleural mesothelioma, representing only one-fifth to one-third of all cases. However, this form of the disease strikes much more quickly. On average, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma develop symptoms about 10 years faster than do patients with pleural mesothelioma.
As with pleural mesothelioma, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms usually go to their doctor complaining of symptoms similar to those of other conditions, such as a hernia or gallbladder problems.
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms may include the following:
• Abdominal pain • Fever
• Abdominal mass • Weight loss
• Increased abdominal girth • Tiredness
• Fluid in the abdomen • Digestive problems
Peritoneal mesothelioma can develop in two forms: dry or wet. In the dry form, several small masses or one larger mass forms in the lining of the abdominal cavity. In the wet type, there may be several smaller nodules, but no larger mass. However, with this type, fluid in the abdomen is almost always present.
Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms
Pericardial mesothelioma is found in less than 10% of mesothelioma cases, making it the least common form of the disease. Pericardial mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the heart (the pericardium), leading to a cancerous growth which produced mesothelioma symptoms.
Unlike pleural mesothelioma, where the disease process is fairly clear, doctors are uncertain how asbestos fibers become lodged in the pericardium. In some cases, pericardial mesothelioma can spread to the lungs, causing secondary lung cancer.
The growth of cancerous tumors in the pericardium can cause fluid to accumulate, leading to an irregular heartbeat or chest pain. Patients usually receive a pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis after they have gone to the doctor complaining of chest pain or fatigue after only a limited amount of exertion. Some patients also complain of shortness of breath or a cough.
Find out more about the treatment options available for patients who develop mesothelioma symptoms.