Symptoms of mesothelioma usually appear between 20 and 50 years after the first exposure to asbestos. Recognizing early symptoms of malignant mesothelioma may aid in diagnosis. Many mesothelioma symptoms mimic symptoms of other, less serious illnesses, delaying diagnosis even further.
Malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed in one of three forms: pleural, peritoneal, or pericardial.
Primary symptoms of pleural—lung membrane—mesothelioma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing, wheezing or hoarseness
- Blood in coughed up fluid
- Fatigue or anemia
- Chest pain due to accumulation of fluid around the lungs, in the pleural space
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are shared by many other illnesses—if standard treatments for bronchitis, the flu and pneumonia do not bring relief, your doctor should take steps to rule out mesothelioma as a possible cause.
Primary symptoms of peritoneal—abdominal lining—mesothelioma include:
- Abdominal pain
- An abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- Bowel obstruction
- A mass in the abdomen
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma often do not appear until the advanced stages of the illness, and even then resemble symptoms of other illnesses.
Primary symptoms of pericardial—heart membrane—mesothelioma include:
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Heart murmur
- Difficulty breathing, even at rest or lying down
- Fever or night sweats
Pericardial mesothelioma makes up fewer than six percent of all recorded mesothelioma cases. Like pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma closely resemble the symptoms of other heart conditions, usually delaying diagnosis.