Mesothelioma – An Overview

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Symptoms and signs of mesothelioma usually vary according to where the mesothelioma is located. Peritoneal mesothelioma causes most common signs and symptoms like chest pains and difficulty breathing, usually pointing to pleural mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is caused by breathing problem caused by fluid build-up in the sac surrounding the heart. The third type is the pericardial mesothelioma that affects the tissue around the pericardium, or heart lining, and may not cause chest pain or other symptoms. Diagnosis of these types of mesothelioma depends on the location of the mesothelioma and how it started.


Peritoneal mesothelioma is the most common type, and it is also the least invasive. It affects tissue surrounding the belly button, the pelvic area and the inner linings of the abdominal cavity wall. Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs or chest cavity and causes common signs and symptoms like chest pain and swelling. Pericardial mesothelioma is the most serious form of mesothelioma and affects tissue that covers the heart. This form is the reason for most of the treatment options available for pericardial mesothelioma.

There is an increased risk of developing mesothelioma if you have a family history of the disease. If someone in your family has had mesothelioma you are at an increased risk of developing the cancer, but this risk increases with age and if you have other health problems. Sometimes the cause of mesothelioma is unknown, but it may be due to exposure to asbestos when the patient was younger. People who smoke have an increased risk of getting mesothelioma as well.

The symptoms of mesothelioma are fairly obvious and include any of the following signs and symptoms: abnormal scarring, fluid build-up in the chest, breathlessness, heart palpitations, coughing, chest pain, swelling of the abdomen around the stomach, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, fever, skin lumps, fluid buildup in the groin area, painful urination and difficulty breathing. Usually there is also a lump in the neck. The majority of cases do not show signs or symptoms until they have progressed to the final stages. When this happens, symptoms begin to become more severe and extend into the abdominal area, thighs, arms, and back. When mesothelioma reaches the final stages, symptoms begin to include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, constant pain in the muscles of the chest area, abdominal bloating, inability to tolerate hot and cold temperatures, shortness of breath, and dark-colored urine. Less common, but still possible symptoms include unexplained weight fluctuations and impotence.

The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, and there are two main types of asbestos exposure: asbestosis and diffuse pleural mesothelioma. Asbestosis, as the name implies, is associated with exposure to fibers from asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma is caused by repeated exposure to asbestos fibers. This is the most common type of mesothelioma and accounts for roughly ninety-five percent of all mesothelioma cases. When the patient has been exposed to more than twenty per cent of the asbestos fibers within a twenty-four hour period, this is considered a cause for concern.

Although the majority of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are of the white race and are middle aged and older, it is not uncommon for patients of African descent to develop the disease. Studies show that cases of mesothelioma are highest among people of Asian descent, and cases tend to be rarer in Caucasian patients. Although more cases of mesothelioma have been diagnosed among men than women, the disease can affect either sex. More than a third of all people diagnosed with cancer, live with the consequences of their disease for the rest of their lives.

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