- Diagnosis & Prognosis
- Support & Community
It is vital for anyone exposed to asbestos to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressively dangerous cancer capable of growing and spreading quickly once signs and symptoms appear. Many of the symptoms are similar in nature to those of benign conditions.
If you suffer from mesothelioma, your best chance of extending your survival rate rests on getting treatment immediately. Most individuals survive for only six to 12 months once they are diagnosed. Initiating treatment very quickly after signs of the disease first appear gives you a greater chance of living longer.
Less typical symptoms may include lower back pain, an inability to breathe without discomfort, vocal hoarseness and difficulty swallowing.
affects tissues surrounding the heart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms may include:
Mesothelioma symptoms typically appear 10 to 40 years — or more — after initial asbestos exposure. This exposure occurs when microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested. They eventually produce inflammation, scarring and changes to your DNA. These conditions set the stage for this rare form of cancer to develop within the cells of the protective lining — the mesothelium — that covers various parts of your body including the lungs, abdomen and heart.
A number of these symptoms are general, or non-specific; they are the same as symptoms for other, less threatening illnesses. Because they can seem like more common illnesses, patients with earliest-stage mesothelioma fail to recognize that something truly serious is wrong.
Don’t wait to seek medical attention for weeks or months. This delay gives the cancer ample opportunity to grow and spread. At this point, when it is at last detected, your prognosis may often be poor.
Worse, delays in diagnosing mesothelioma can also occur because most doctors do not regularly see patients with this disease and, as a result, won’t always immediately recognize it. In fact, without the benefit of imaging studies or lab work to provide more conclusive evidence, doctors often find mesothelioma symptoms indistinguishable from common respiratory issues including hay fever, colds and bronchitis.
If you were exposed to asbestos at some point in your younger years, take no chances. Visit your family doctor or a specialist for a thorough examination. Make sure you tell the doctor about your contact with asbestos, so you can take the appropriate tests and receive an accurate diagnosis.