In nearly all cases, mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers which become lodged in the mesothelium, the lining that surrounds the body’s internal organs. There are three main types of mesothelioma, corresponding to the portion of the mesothelium affected by asbestos fibers: peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen), pericardial mesothelioma (heart) and pleural mesothelioma (lungs and chest).
The most common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are shortness of breath, chest pain and cough. A pleural effusion (water in the lungs) can be a sign that these symptoms are caused by mesothelioma, rather than another disease. As the tumor spreads, it can cause pleural thickening, which causes the lining of the lungs to become less flexible, causing problems breathing.
Frequently reported peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weakness, weight loss, nausea and swelling of the abdomen. In some cases, fluid may build up in the abdomen, leading to a condition known as Ascites. These symptoms will usually start off gradually and become more and more severe over time. If the tumor has spread to other parts of the body, patients may also experience problems swallowing, swollen neck, fever, anemia or blood clotting problems.
Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of the disease, so there is little information about the early symptoms associated with it. Potential signs of pericardial mesothelioma include problems breathing and chest pain.
Because the symptoms of these three types of mesothelioma can be similar to those of other diseases, only a trained physician can make a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis. Your doctor may perform a biopsy, laboratory testing, X-rays, CT scans or other exams or tests depending on the type of mesothelioma that is suspected. The information from these tests may be important for your case if you decide to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.