Mesothelioma Signs and Symptoms
Posted Tues, June 28, 2016, by Cara T. – The Mesothelioma Center
For Mike T., the lump on his chest didn’t seem problematic. Nearly two years earlier, he had two pleurodesis procedures after he broke a rib and punctured his lung during a martial arts class. He assumed the lump was a cyst resulting from the surgeries. One day, he noticed the lump appeared to be growing, which prompted a trip to his physician. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a benign cyst.
Mike was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Known for a long latency period, it typically takes 20-50 years for mesothelioma to develop after exposure to asbestos. As a result, many patients do not realize they are at risk for this cancer and may not monitor for any mesothelioma symptoms.
Signs of Mesothelioma
Every patient demonstrates slightly different symptoms of mesothelioma. In Mike’s case, it was a lump, but that is not always the case. Mesothelioma has symptoms similar to other lung-related conditions, which makes diagnosing the asbestos-related cancer even more challenging for physicians. To overcome these difficulties, it’s important for patients to share any possible history of asbestos exposure with their doctor as soon as possible.
While symptoms of mesothelioma can vary from patient to patient, there are several common symptoms people with a history of asbestos exposure should watch out for:
- Pain in your chest or abdomen
- Wheezing or a dry cough
- Breathing difficulties
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
Early signs of the disease can be minimal and may not seem like a problem, making it difficult for patients to recognize symptoms. As the disease progresses, signs and symptoms can become more pronounced, but it may be too late for some patients. It’s essential for patients to talk to their doctor about any possible signs of mesothelioma no matter how small they are.
Early Diagnosis Makes a Difference
Thankfully, for Mike, his cancer was caught early. The disease had not progressed too far, and he had a variety of treatment options. With the help of chemotherapy, radiation, and a clinical trial, he was able to fight the cancer. This year, he will celebrate his five-year survival mark.
Early diagnosis can have a huge impact on a patient’s prognosis. When diagnosed early, mesothelioma has multiple treatment options: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Patients also can attack their disease aggressively with multimodal treatment — a combination of these traditional therapies.
The multimodal treatment plan is the most effective method of fighting mesothelioma.
People at risk of mesothelioma must be proactive and diligent about monitoring any health fluctuations in order to catch the disease early.