Mesothelioma Symptoms

A patient with mesothelioma typically demonstrates symptoms between 20 and 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. An early diagnosis can significantly impact a patient's mesothelioma life expectancy.

Early Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer, comprising approximately two-thirds of all mesothelioma cases. Known symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
Patients diagnosed with diffuse pleural mesothelioma exhibited the following symptoms
(source: "Diffuse malignant mesothelioma of the pleura in Ontario and Quebec: a retrospective study of 332 patients." P Ruffie et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology Aug 1 1989: 1157-1168.)
% exhibiting
Shortness of breath and/or chest pain
Weight loss
Cough, weakness, fever, loss of appetite
Hemoptysis (coughing up blood), hoarseness, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), Horner's syndrome
less than 1%
Pleural Effusions

Patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma exhibited the following symptoms
(source: "Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A Review." Bridda A, Padoan I, Mencarelli R, Frego M. MedGenMed 2007 May 10;9(2):32.)
% exhibiting
Abdominal pain
Abdominal swelling
anorexia, marked weight loss, and ascites
percentage not given
less frequently night sweats and hypercoagulability
percentage not given
Clinical presentation with fever of unknown origin, intestinal obstruction, or surgical emergency due to acute infalmmatory lesions have also been reported
percentage not given
Night sweats or fever
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma occur as a result of thickening of the pleural membrane.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for approximately 25 to 30 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses. Symptoms of this type may include:
Unexplained weight loss

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pericardial mesothelioma accounts for less than 5 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Symptoms are caused by thickening of the pericardial membrane and fluid buildup. Symptoms of this form of mesothelioma are known to include:
Chest pain
Pericardial mesothelioma is so rare that the recognized body of symptoms is not as well-developed as with more common types of mesothelioma.


Asbestosis Mesothelioma Information

Mesothelioma Disease

What exactly is mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is actually a rare type of cancer. When people refer to mesothelioma disease, they are actually referring to mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium, the membrane that surrounds several body cavities. Four different types of mesothelioma exist. Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of mesothelioma and develops in the lining surrounding the testicles, known as the tunica vaginalis.
 Even as late as 1943—the year many consider asbestos was determined a cause mesothelioma — researchers suggested "pleuroma" as a name for these tumors, however, mesothelioma gradually became the accepted term. Likely as a result of relative rarity of mesothelioma, the connections between asbestos and mesothelioma began to be made even as mesothelioma itself was still not well understood or identified.
Two years later, in 1935, Gloyne is considered the first to make a possible connection between occupational asbestos exposures and mesothelioma.
What is often regarded as the first study to connect mesothelioma with asbestos was published in 1943 by German researcher, Dr. H.W. Wedle. Several more publications in a similar vein followed, and throughout the 1940s and 1950s, articles discussing asbestosis cases often mentioned accompanying lung cancers and/or mesotheliomas. In 1954, F. Leicher reported the first case of peritoneal mesothelioma in an asbestos textile factory spinner. It was an article published by South African researchers J.C. Wagner, Christopher Sleggs, and Paul Marchand that is generally attributed as the removing any doubts that asbestos causes mesothelioma. Wagner had initially been hired by the South African Government Mining Engineer to study occupational diseases, namely, asbestosis; however, Wagner began to focus his attention on the unusual pleural tumors he was finding during his research. The study, first presented at a conference in Johannesburg in 1959 and published in 1960 in the British Journal of Medicine, detailed 33 cases of mesothelioma with all but one case having a proven asbestos exposure history. In eight cases, their exposure history was occupational, however, some twenty of the mesothelioma cases discussed simply lived as infants near the mines.
Although the language of Wagner's study left the association between asbestos and mesothelioma "possible," the results of such damaging evidence against asbestos in occupational and, perhaps more importantly, bystander asbestos exposures was not lost on the industry. In the 50s and 60s, New Jersey physician Irving J. Selikoff saw several men suffering from pulmonary abnormalities as a result of inhaling asbestos dust on the job at the Patterson, NJ UNARCO (Union Asbestos & Rubber Company) plant. UNARCO's specialty was in producing asbestos insulation materials for the US Navy. When several of Selikoff's UNARCO patients died as a result of cancer, he contacted UNARCO requesting their participation in a study of workers' health.
If the makers of the insulation were being injured by asbestos, Selikoff supposed, those installing it might face similar risks. Early in 1962, Selikoff contacted the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers (New York Local 12 and Newark Local 32). Among the insulators, mortality was 25% higher than was expected, and not from asbestosis alone, but from lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, colorectal cancer, and malignant mesothelioma.
Along with Selikoff's presentation at the 1964 conference, Wagner and other researchers presented further evidence of the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. British physician Molly Newhouse echoed Wagner's own findings when she presented her research regarding mesothelioma cases among people who lived near, but were not employed by, a London asbestos factory. Many of the presentations emphasized that victims often did not suffer long or heavy exposures, work with asbestos, nor have asbestosis.