Unfortunately for patients, mesothelioma is difficult to detect, since the symptoms are initially vague and mild and only become more noticeable as they become more severe as the illness progresses.
When asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, they can become lodged in the lining of the organs and may remain in the body for decades. During this time, those fibers may slowly cause cellular damage resulting in mesothelioma which may spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms will vary depending on the type of mesothelioma, including:
Similar symptoms may appear from each type of mesothelioma, but each type has its own combination of symptoms, which helps to identify the specific disease.
Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, a dry cough and weight loss. Pleural mesothelioma patients often experience pleural effusions that contain blood. Although most of these symptoms are discovered by a physician's examination, there are also symptoms — such as a thickening of the layer covering the organs — that are typically discovered by imaging, fluid or tissue tests.
Not all of the symptoms of mesothelioma are confined to the site of the original cancer. When the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, which happens in nearly half of all cases, symptoms may include dysphagia (coughing/spitting up blood), nerve involvement of the arm, laryngeal nerve palsy and Horner's syndrome, among other neurological syndromes.
If you exhibit any of the symptoms associated with mesothelioma, it is important to discuss your health history and any past asbestos exposure with a primary care physician to help diagnose or rule out mesothelioma.
For more information about mesothelioma symptoms and diagnosis, as well as your options if you or a loved one has already been diagnosed, contact an attorney at the San Francisco Bay Area offices of Kaiser Gornick LLP. Speak with a lawyer at an initial consultation.