The main types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the more common form and can be either acute or chronic. Symptoms include chest pains, shortness of breath, cough, nausea, and sometimes fever and persistent pain in the abdomen, left side and back. If a person has been exposed to large amounts of asbestos, the best way to check for symptoms is with a chest X-ray.
Peritoneal mesothelioma causes are often very difficult to determine because the symptoms tend to be non-specific. Some doctors believe that it is the result of exposure to toxic chemicals such as asbestos. There is no evidence to support this idea, and doctors have not identified a particular type of asbestos in the lungs of mesothelioma patients. Since most peritoneal mesothelioma patients have had some exposure to asbestos, doctors believe the main cause is exposure to a variety of chemicals that are present in buildings today.
Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare type of disease that affects the lining that surrounds the heart. This lining membrane – also called the pericardium – contains a lubricating fluid that helps protect the organ from inflammation. If this protective layer becomes infected, the lining could thicken and become thickened like a thick, brittle paper. When this occurs, the function of the organ can be impaired, resulting in pain and other symptoms.
Some doctors use both the X-rays and needle biopsies to diagnose mesothelioma. X-rays can look inside the lining of the lungs or abdomen, but they cannot identify the different types of cancer cells. Needle biopsies are used more often in lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. During these exams, doctors inject a sample of your lining into a petri dish, where it is examined under a microscope. You can get these results back within several days, depending on your condition.
Peritoneal mesothelioma can take many forms, depending on the location of the cancer cells. Some symptoms include: weight loss, painful symptoms, nausea, and abdominal swelling. If the peritoneum becomes infected with cancer cells, the fluid may leak into the abdominal cavity, causing fluid retention and swelling. It can also travel up the urinary tract and possibly to the vagina or fallopian tubes if it reaches them in this area. You may experience pain or discomfort when you urinate or during sexual intercourse, and you may notice blood in the urine or semen.
The reason that these tests are done is to identify the presence of cancer cells in the lining, so that you can be tested for this and other reasons as well. It helps determine the survival rate of mesothelioma patients, because it shows how much of the risk factor can be prevented. It is important to remember, though, that even if you do have this test, you do not have to worry about a cure. A lot of people are able to live many years past their diagnosis with no further medical treatment needed. If you think that you might be at risk, talk to your doctor about your concerns.