Mesothelioma


Small Cell Carcinoma

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer, caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos.  It primarily affects the lungs – though, in rarer cases, the abdomen and heart can affected, too.  Between two and three thousand cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed per year in the United States alone.  This figure comprises about three percent of annual national cancer diagnoses.  Mesothelioma occurs approximately four times as often in females than in males, and with the exception of benign mesothelioma, it is considered a terminal diagnosis, as no cure is known.

Typical life expectancy rates for those diagnosed with mesothelioma is one year or less; however, the prognosis is determined by numerous factors, including how early the detection takes place and the manner and aggressiveness of the chosen method of treatment.

Symptoms typically become evident between 2 and 5 decades after asbestos exposure; this type of cancer can take decades to develop, and patients may be asymptomatic until well after the cancer is present.  Mesothelioma symptoms often resemble those associated with other, less serious diseases.

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma.  If you have a history of exposure to asbestos, particularly over the long-term, such as occupational exposure, it is wise to let a medical professional know.  Getting diagnosed early on may have a significant, positive impact on the life of a patient.

Symptoms seldom arise early on; this is why the disease is not usually diagnosed until it is at a later stage.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Raspy or dry cough with little to no phlegm
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing up of blood
  • Fever or sweating at night
  • Inexplicable weight loss of ten percent of more of total body weight
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Pain in the chest or ribs that doesn’t go away
  • Pain when breathing
  • Shortness of breath even when resting
  • Lumps underneath the skin on the chest

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Fever or sweating at night
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count/low iron)
  • Changes in bower habits, either diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lumps under the abdominal skin

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Pain in the chest
  • Trouble breathing, even at rest
  • Fever or sweating at night
  • Fatigue

If you have a history of chronic asbestos exposure and exhibit any of the above symptoms, see a doctor to rule out – or proceed appropriately if the diagnosis indicates it – mesothelioma.