Epithelial mesothelioma is a type of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleura), abdomen (peritoneum), or, rarely, the heart (pericardium) or testicles (tunica vaginalis). The symptoms of epithelial mesothelioma can vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer, but common symptoms include:
- Chest Pain: Patients with pleural mesothelioma often experience chest pain, which can be sharp and worsen with deep breathing or coughing.
- Shortness of Breath: Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath can result from the accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity, known as pleural effusion.
- Persistent Cough: A chronic cough that doesn’t go away, or coughing up blood (hemoptysis), can be a symptom of pleural mesothelioma.
- Fatigue: General fatigue and weakness may be present due to the cancer’s impact on overall health.
- Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom of many cancers, including mesothelioma.
- Abdominal Pain: For peritoneal mesothelioma, patients may experience abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort.
- Swelling: Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites) can occur in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma.
- Bowel Changes: Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, may occur in peritoneal mesothelioma.
- Nausea and Vomiting: These symptoms may be associated with peritoneal mesothelioma, particularly when there’s intestinal obstruction.
- Heart Palpitations or Chest Discomfort: If the cancer affects the pericardium (the lining around the heart), patients may experience palpitations or chest discomfort.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can be non-specific and resemble those of other more common conditions. Additionally, many people with mesothelioma do not develop symptoms until the cancer is in an advanced stage. Because of this, if you have a history of asbestos exposure (the primary risk factor for mesothelioma), it’s crucial to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they are persistent or worsen over time. Early detection and treatment can improve outcomes for mesothelioma patients.