Mesothelioma Symptoms & Warning Signs
Mesothelioma – an asbestos-related cancer that primarily affects the tissues surrounding the internal organs – is one of the most deadly types of cancer. The symptoms of mesothelioma and the treatment that a patient will receive depend largely on the kind of mesothelioma. For instance, some forms of mesothelioma begin in the testicles, while others start in the lungs or in the tissue surrounding the heart.
Mesothelioma has been definitively linked to exposure to asbestos. This means that patients who are suffering from mesothelioma could be eligible to recover money to compensate them for their losses if a company, manufacturer, distributor, or employer’s negligence resulted in their exposure to these dangerous minerals.
Please call the dedicated mesothelioma lawyers at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., today to learn more about your legal options. The consultation is free and confidential.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma, like other forms of this cancer, is primarily caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, according to The European Respiratory Review. After attaching to the lungs, asbestos fibers cause irritation and a repeated cycle of tissue damage and repair.
Eventually, these fibers begin releasing oxygen free atoms that cause intracellular damage to a person’s DNA. It is also possible for asbestos fibers to penetrate the mesothelial cells, where they alter chromosome structure and cause mutations in the DNA, ultimately resulting in the growth of tumors.
Generally, the symptoms of mesothelioma depend on where the cancer occurs. Pleural mesothelioma, for instance, affects the tissues surrounding the lungs. According to the Mayo Clinic, patients who are suffering from this condition could experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Excessive or painful coughing
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Lumps of tissue under the skin of the chest
- Unexplained weight loss
The European Respiratory Review also reports that many patients with pleural mesothelioma suffer fatigue, anorexia, night sweats, and malaise, in addition to an increasing feeling of dullness or heaviness in the chest. These symptoms tend to worsen over time as the disease progresses, although treatment can help alleviate some of the more painful effects.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Medical journals, including the Annals of Translational Medicine define peritoneal mesothelioma as a cancer that affects the tissues in the abdomen. Linked to toxic exposure to industrial pollutants, such as asbestos, peritoneal mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose. It is characterized by vague and relatively nonspecific symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal distension (bloating)
- Abdominal pain
- An inability to eat
- Weight loss
In some cases, patients may also suffer from fevers, night sweats, and hernias.
Because the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma vary so much, diagnosis of this illness is often delayed, making treatment much more difficult. Physicians generally encourage people who are suffering from consistent and unexplained abdominal pain and weight loss to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare form of mesothelioma that develops in the lining of the heart. According to the medical journal, Case Reports in Oncological Medicine, pericardial mesothelioma often manifests as:
- Shortness of breath even when at rest, which is also known as dyspnea
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Night sweats
The clinical misdiagnosis rate for pericardial mesothelioma is high because the symptoms of this disease are often confused with other medical conditions, including heart failure, tuberculosis, and coronary heart disease.
Symptoms of Testicular Mesothelioma
Mesothelial tumors can form in any tissue where there is a mesothelial membrane. Testicular mesothelioma, in particular, is an aggressive form of cancer that develops from the membrane that covers the testes, also known as the tunica vaginalis.
This type of mesothelioma typically takes the form of:
- Growths in the testicles
- Scrotal pain
It is not uncommon for patients suffering from testicular mesothelioma to experience little to no pain. In fact, the Singapore Medical Journal reports that nearly one-third of all testicular mesothelioma patients have a painless scrotal mass. Imaging tests and biopsies are required to eliminate other possibilities and confirm a diagnosis of testicular mesothelioma.
How Do You Know If You Have Mesothelioma?
How mesothelioma is diagnosed depends on the tissues that are primarily affected by the disease. Diagnosing pericardial mesothelioma, for instance, may require a combination of multimodal imaging methods, including:
- An echocardiogram
- A CT scan
- An MRI
- An FDG-PET scan
Specialists are usually able to make a definite diagnosis only after taking a pericardial biopsy of the tumor’s fluids or tissues, according to the Journal of Thoracic Disease.
Similarly, testicular mesothelioma, because it does not present with unique symptoms, cannot be definitively confirmed without performing a biopsy. This process involves the removal of a tissue sample from the tumor and the studying of the cells in that sample for evidence of cancer. Before taking this step, however, many physicians use ultrasonography and radiography, as well as physical examinations to detect lesions and tumors in the testicles.
Although the specific treatments for those who are experiencing the effects of mesothelioma depend on the type of cancer in question, most can expect to undergo a physical examination, as well as a review of their medical history, overall physical condition, and occupational history.
Imaging scans, such as x-rays and CT scans, will also likely be used to reveal the size and location of tumors. Blood tests can also be used to confirm certain biomarkers that are associated with cancer. A confirmed diagnosis, however, is possible only after taking a biopsy of the fluid or tissue in the tumor and studying the types of cancer cells that it contains.
What to Expect from Mesothelioma Treatment
The treatment regimens of patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma differ depending on the location of the cancer. Pericardial mesothelioma treatment options, for instance, include surgery and chemotherapy, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Surgery is used to remove tumors, and chemo is used to reduce tumor mass. Radiation is rarely effective for those who are suffering from pericardial mesothelioma.
A combination of surgical removal of the tumor and heated chemotherapy has proven most effective for peritoneal mesothelioma. Both chemotherapy and radiation may be necessary to treat testicular mesothelioma, especially when this illness is already in its late stages. Patients who are diagnosed earlier may require only surgical removal of the tumor.
Pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common form of mesothelioma, as noted by the European Respiratory Review, can be treated in a few different ways, including:
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy, which involves completely removing the diseased lung and its lining
- Pleurectomy with decortication, which involves sparing the entire lung in favor of removing the diseased tissue and all visible tumors
- Chemotherapy, which is often used both before and after surgery
- Radiation, which is the least invasive treatment option for this disease, as it allows for the specific targeting and shrinking of tumors, leaving healthy lung tissue unharmed.
Ultimately, the type of treatment that will be most successful for a patient who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The area of the body that is primarily affected
- How early the condition is diagnosed
- The patient’s age and general health
Unfortunately, treatment is almost always expensive, especially for patients who require multiple surgeries, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. Many are also unable to work while undergoing treatment, which can make it nearly impossible to stay on top of mounting medical debt and pay household expenses.
In many cases, collecting compensation from whoever was responsible for a patient’s exposure to asbestos is the best way for patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma can pay for medical care. Filing this type of claim can be a complicated process, especially for people who are in the late stages of the illness and in significant pain.
These claims require help from an experienced asbestos litigation lawyer who can seek compensation on the patient’s behalf.
Talk to a Mesothelioma Lawyer Now
If you are experiencing mesothelioma symptoms and have received a diagnosis indicating that you have pleural, pericardial, testicular, or peritoneal mesothelioma, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, as well as your past and future pain and suffering and other losses.
Whether you became ill as a result of an employer’s negligence, or a manufacturer or distributor’s carelessness, you may deserve to be compensated for your losses.
To learn more about your legal options following a mesothelioma diagnosis, please contact the dedicated mesothelioma attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., today. The consultation is free and completely confidential.