Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that forms in the lining, or mesothelial, of organs. The only known cause of this cancerous disease is exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma typically do not appear for 20-50 years after exposure; therefore, many patients do not immediately connect their cancer to asbestos exposure.
Depending on the type of mesothelioma, symptoms may vary, but can include chest pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, and weight loss. Classified by the location where the disease originates, there are four main types of mesothelioma—each with slightly varying symptoms.
Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, develops in the pleura or the thin membrane that lines the lungs. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are often ignored or misdiagnosed due to their similarity to less threatening illnesses. Some of the most common symptoms are shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, chronic cough and unexplained weight loss and fatigue.
Symptoms experienced with peritoneal mesothelioma, which originates in the abdomen lining, typically consists of abdominal and stomach pain, buildup of fluid and gas in the abdomen, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Pericardial mesothelioma, a rare form of mesothelioma, attacks the pericardium, or lining of the heart. Common symptoms include chest pain, fluid buildup in the heart (pericardial effusion), arrhythmia, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, fever and night sweats. Due to symptoms not appearing immediately when the cancer develops and due to the similarities with other heart conditions, this type of mesothelioma is often not diagnosed until the cancer is in its final stages.
Testicular Mesothelioma/Mesothelioma of uterine serosa
There have been cases, although rare, of mesothelioma attacking the lining of the reproductive organs, in both men and women. Testicular mesothelioma, often mistaken for a hernia, develops in the lining that covers the testicles. Proper diagnosis typically doesn’t happen until surgery, but buildup of fluid in the scrotum is one of the reported symptoms. Due to its extreme rarity, very little is known about testicular mesothelioma. Comparable area in women where mesothelioma has been found is the tunica serosa uteri. Again, very rare, little is known and documented.
Since it may take 20-50 years from the time of exposure for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear, it is critical not to ignore any symptoms. Also, it is important for patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma to contact a mesothelioma lawyer. The patient may be entitled to compensation for the economic and non-economic consequences of exposure.