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Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Oct 17, 2007
One of the problems with mesothelioma is that it is hard to detect early. X-rays are sometimes used to discover tumors and masses for some types of cancer, but so far, chest x-rays have not been able to detect the earliest stages of mesothelioma.

Researchers are working on a blood test for detecting mesothelioma, in which certain proteins in the blood are at an elevated level when mesothelioma is present in the body. However, the blood test is not yet guaranteed to provide accurate results.

The earliest stage of mesothelioma almost always comes with some specific symptoms. The problem with the symptoms is that they are common, general, and many times go undetected or ignored. By the time a person visits a doctor because of the symptoms, the cancer has usually advanced, due to the fact that mesothelioma is very aggressive.

Commonly, individuals who are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma in the chest) complain of the following symptoms for about two or three months prior to their diagnosis: not being able to take a full breath or shortness of breath, having a difficult time swallowing, pain in the side or the lower back, a horse voice, a persistent cough, a fever, sweating for no apparent reason, feeling tired all of the time, a sudden loss of weight, feeling weak or having no energy, and swelling in the arms and/or face area.

Individuals who are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma (mesothelioma in the abdomen) complain of the following symptoms for about two or three months prior to their diagnosis: unexplained pain in the abdominal area, sudden loss of weight, the feeling of nausea, throwing up, a bump in the abdominal area that can be felt or a build up of fluid in the abdomen.

Sometimes, a person will experience any or all of these symptoms, but they do not turn out to be caused by mesothelioma. If any or all of the symptoms listed above are experienced, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause. A person with the symptoms listed above who knows that he or she was exposed to asbestos at any time in his or her life should visit a doctor immediately since early detection of mesothelioma is crucial.

For a person with mesothelioma who has symptoms, a visit to the doctor should include a full physical exam as well as a list of questions that the doctor will ask. Make sure to tell the doctor of any asbestos exposure if he or she neglects to ask.

A physical exam in a general practice doctor's office can usually immediately determine if there is any fluid built up in the heart, chest or abdomen. Fluid in any of these areas can be caused by mesothelioma. However, additional tests will be needed to find out exactly what is going on and whether or not mesothelioma is actually present.
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