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Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Early Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The early symptoms of mesothelioma are very minor, and may be mistaken for symptoms of other, less serious, diseases. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of mesothelioma, is cancer in the mesothelium surrounding the lungs. The early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough. One common misdiagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is pneumonia.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that is in the mesothelioma surrounding the abdominal organs. Mesothelioma in this area causes weight loss, nausea, and swelling in the lower extremities. Symptoms of both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma include the development of an effusion.
An effusion, either in the pleural or peritoneal mesothelium, is a build-up of excessive fluid. The excessive fluid is a result of the imbalance in the mesothelium cells. Their job is to lubricate the organs that they surround. When the mesothelium cells are invaded by cancer they overproduce the protective cells, which in turn cause fluid build-up. The fluid build-up from an effusion can cause side effects such as shortness of breath and chest pain, or, in the case of a peritoneal effusion, bowel obstruction and swelling of the abdomen. For more information about each kind of cancer, please see “Pleural Mesothelioma,” “Pericardial Mesothelioma,” and “Peritoneal Mesothelioma.”
More Advanced Symptoms of Mesothelioma
By the time that a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer is often well advanced. The patient may cough up blood, have abnormal blood clotting, experience fatigue, and suffer with night sweats.
Diagnosis is normally made through x-ray, but CT scans or ultrasound can be used as well. About five percent of the patients that are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma have it in both lungs at the time of the initial diagnoses. Often, by the time a diagnosis is made, the tumors have metastasized and moved to other areas of the body.
What to do if You Suspect You have Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a very serious disease, and diagnosis is complicated. The early symptoms of mesothelioma mimic many other more benign health problems, and many people have no early symptoms at all. The turning point in the progression of mesothelioma is in the development of effusions. At the point where the mesothelium starts to manufacture a surplus of cells, the cancer is often well advanced.
Of course, no one wants to live a life in fear. One can not run to the doctor every time one has a cough or chest pain. However, it is argued that the best prognosis for mesothelioma patients is tied to an early diagnosis. Here are some tips on how to balance concerns for your health with the desire for a normal life:
Assess your risk. Do you, or did you at any time, work in an occupation with a high incidence of exposure to asbestos? If so, it makes sense to be more vigilant about any health issue, particularly any problems associated with your lungs or breathing.
Have regular check-ups. By choosing a doctor that understands the dangers of asbestos exposure and has seen many cases of mesothelioma, you increase the odds that your doctor will recognize the early symptoms, should you develop them.
Have your level of exposure tested. Although there is no definitive amount of asbestos that presents an increased health risk, for your peace of mind you can have a lung wash, which will give your doctor an idea about your level of exposure.
Keep your lungs healthy. Mesothelioma is most common in the pleural cavity. While strong and healthy lungs are not immune to mesothelioma, if your respiratory system is in top shape, through regular exercise, you will be better prepared to undergo the stressful treatments surrounding mesothelioma.
Preventing Mesothelioma
The only sure way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Asbestos was widely used throughout the country for both domestic and industrial uses. Once the dangers of asbestos exposure became widely known, use was reduced. Unfortunately, it was too late for an ever-growing number of people. The health risks associated with asbestos exposure may not show up for 50 years. Given the long latency period, it is expected that there will be an increase in the cases of mesothelioma as generations of workers age.
Today, exposure to asbestos often occurs in remodeling and repair projects. While stringent guidelines are in place for the abatement of asbestos in schools and other public buildings, most areas give the homeowner the option of removing or repairing asbestos building materials themselves. However, a licensed professional should perform all forms of repair and abatement of asbestos-contaminated materials.
If you decide to undertake an asbestos abatement project, it is important to understand the importance of wearing protective clothing and breathing apparatus, as well as cleaning the areas thoroughly and preventing dust from the project area from contaminating the rest of the home. If done incorrectly, you run the risk of exposing not only yourself, but the rest of your family to asbestos.

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