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What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

The symptoms of mesothelioma will take many years to show up after asbestos exposure first took place.  In the early stages of the illness the symptoms can be vague and similar to the symptoms of a cold or flu such as coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Mesothelioma predominantly occurs in the pleura (the lining of the lungs).  In relation to pleural mesothelioma, often the first major sign that something may be wrong is when fluid builds up in the pleural space.  This is known as a pleural effusion and the build up of fluid can restrict the ability of the lung to expand as you breathe and can cause breathlessness and chest pain.  A pleural effusion may be found after a chest x-ray has been carried out. 

A surgical procedure known as pleural drainage or aspiration may be carried out to drain away the fluid which will make it easier to breathe and may relieve chest pain.  This often provides very rapid relief but sometimes the relief is only short-lived as the effusion can recur.

As the tumour progresses further symptoms may develop.  These may include:
  • A persistent cough or wheezing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloody sputum
  • Unexplained fever and sweating
  • Recurring chest infections
  • Abdominal pain.  This may be particularly associated with peritoneal (stomach) mesothelioma.

If you have any of the above symptoms then you should see your doctor who can arrange for tests to be carried out.

In the latter stages of the illness symptoms may progress, so it is important to seek medical advice to make sure that treatments are made available.  Various treatments may be offered to help to treat and palliate the symptoms and make sure that the sufferer is kept as comfortable and free of pain as possible.

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