Mesothelioma generally develops in the human body after asbestos exposure. Symptoms of Mesothelioma can appear 20-50 years after asbestos exposure. Usually, people misunderstand these symptoms with other illnesses. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the chest, and chest pain. Bloating, pain in the abdomen and weight loss are common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma. If someone has a history of asbestos exposure and are showing signs of mesothelioma, contact the doctor immediately. People searching for mesothelioma are often curious to know about it. Hence, they search on various search engines – How do you know if you have mesothelioma? We will answer this question in this article.
You must remember, malignant mesothelioma is highly aggressive. It is very painful in the advanced stage. The signs may vary from patient to patient and with the parts of the body affected. The life expectancy of a person with a Mesothelioma prognosis depends on early detection of cancer.
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Is Mesothelioma Painful?
In the earlier stages of mesothelioma, it’s not painful. The patient may experience mild pain and some discomfort. There might be no symptoms at all. Symptoms become more painful in advanced stages as cancer spreads into nerves, bones, and other body parts.
Most of the pleural mesothelioma patients have muscle weakness. They experience body aches in the chest area. Whereas patients who suffer from peritoneal mesothelioma experience pain in the abdominal part. Pericardial mesothelioma patients may have heart palpitations. They may suffer from chest pain, shortness of breath, and acute coughing.
Typically pain increases over time, and in some severe cases, doctors prescribe narcotics to manage it. Patients should let their doctors know about the pain they are feeling. In terms of pain, we can grade Mesothelioma pain according to three degrees.
The first one is mild pain. This type of pain is treated with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Then, moderate pain. Opioid medications are used in combination with NSAIDs to treat this pain. For severe pain, the patient can manage it with the dosage of the painkiller. Most often this painkiller is a morphine drip.
The doctor may recommend various forms of palliative care to manage your pain.
Signs of Mesothelioma when a person is affected
#1. Common symptoms
The early signs of mesothelioma are similar to other illnesses. Many people will wait for years before seeing a doctor. You must remember, Mesothelioma symptoms generally hide in plain sight. The most common symptoms of Mesothelioma are asthma, flu, and fatigue. The patient may suffer from body aches and nonstop coughing. It is not uncommon to wait a long time before seeing a doctor. In Hollywood, many actors had Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. They did not even know that. Asbestos was used in large amounts on sets as scenery or props. Actors and other technicians got easily exposed to those materials.
#2. Strong signs of Mesothelioma
Like other types of cancer, Mesothelioma can cause massive weight loss. Many factors could lead to weight loss. Hence, doctors often ignore it at the beginning. But as the disease aggravates, patients lose weight dramatically. Why cancer patients lose weight? It is due to symptoms and how they are affecting daily living. If you are sick or struggle breathing, eating will not on your priority list. But there are other reasons behind weight loss in Malignant Mesothelioma. It is the result of how cancer is affecting the near organs. So pay attention to how much weight you are losing and how fast you are losing. Inform your doctor if there is any doubt.
#3. Suffering from shortness of breath
One of the earlier and prominent signs of Mesothelioma is a change in breathing patterns. People who are in stages one and two of this cancer may suffer from dyspnea. It’s a kind of breathing problem. There are other signs like fluid buildup and chest pain. But you must remember, pleural effusions are also common in several other diseases. COPD, Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and even a lung infection can cause shortness of breath. So, this makes it harder to recognize in its earlier stages.
- Localized Symptoms to identify Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is difficult to identify in its initial stages. When it spreads, it causes signs that might seem to be just a common illness. There are various cases of Mesothelioma that spread to the lining of the abdomen. This lining is called the peritoneum, and it then can suffer from symptoms like swelling, bloating, constipation, nausea, and stomach aches. All these signs may appear as common sickness. One may not consider a serious condition which makes it difficult at the outset to ascertain whether a person is suffering from Mesothelioma. Apart from swelling, an abnormal mass in the scrotum is also a symptom of the disease. The reason for these body parts to be affected is because of the peritoneum connected to both these areas.
How to identify Malignant Mesothelioma, the Latency Period, and reasons for Misdiagnosis?
Malignant mesothelioma is also difficult to gauge when it first affects a person as the symptoms usually are subtle. They appear along with other respiratory diseases, which can be confusing to the doctor.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease. So it makes it even more difficult for a doctor to identify the disease when examining a patient with Mesothelioma. Another reason that can lead to misdiagnosis is that the disease has a long latency period. The latency period is usually between 15 to 60 years after asbestos exposure. Therefore, the patient might not remember being exposed to Asbestos. In that case, it will also be difficult for the doctor to attribute these symptoms to Asbestos.
Listen to Your Body carefully and don’t ignore even trivial signs
The chances of misdiagnosis of Mesothelioma makes it a very tricky type of cancer. This is because the symptoms are that of common sickness, which is non-life-threatening illnesses. However, you should listen to the discomforts that your body could be feeling, which you are probably ignoring, thinking them to be a common illness. If this continues for a while, then do not ignore it. Most often, Mesothelioma signals get ignored, or unidentified and hence they yield detrimental results of no or late treatment. Thus, many persons are already in Stage 3 or 4 of cancer before it is detected. It is the most dangerous side of having this rare disease.
Another important point to note here is that, if you find yourself struggling to breathe, if you have a cough throughout exhaustion, that is prolonging for a while, then definitely do not ignore it and consult your physician before it’s too late.