Mesothelioma symptoms generally develop 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, and fluid buildup in the chest. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include pain in the abdomen, bloating, and weight loss. If you have a history of asbestos exposure and are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma symptoms depend on a patient’s cancer stage and type of mesothelioma.
Most symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, affect the lungs and chest. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the abdomen, primarily impact the stomach.
That said, some mesothelioma symptoms are consistent for the majority of patients — regardless of their cancer type or stage.
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Breathing problems
- Chronic cough
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Fluid buildup in the chest or abdomen
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
Is Mesothelioma Painful?
In the earlier stages of mesothelioma, you may experience mild pain and discomfort and little to no symptoms. However, symptoms typically become more painful as the cancer spreads into bones, nerves, and other body parts.
Your doctor may recommend various forms of palliative care to help you manage your pain.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Early-Stage Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Patients with early-stage (stages 1 and 2) pleural mesothelioma usually have vague symptoms that mimic symptoms of other illnesses.
Early-stage pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fluid buildup (pleural effusions)
- Persistent dry cough
- Pain in the chest wall
- Shortness of breath
These early symptoms are hard to detect, meaning patients are rarely diagnosed during these stages.
Late-Stage Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Patients with late-stage (stages 3 and 4) pleural mesothelioma may notice more painful and uncomfortable symptoms. In these stages, the cancer spreads through the lymph nodes or bloodstream, causing existing symptoms to worsen and new symptoms to appear.
Late-stage pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Blood clotting disorders
- Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fever and excessive sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Lumps under the skin of the chest
- Noticeable weight loss
Misdiagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Since pleural mesothelioma is so rare, doctors sometimes misdiagnose it as other, more familiar conditions that affect lung function.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may be mistaken for:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can already be present in those exposed to asbestos
- Lung cancer
- A benign (noncancerous) tumor
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptom Management
In addition to the standard treatments for pleural mesothelioma (surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation), you can help manage your symptoms through various palliative care options.
Non-medical or natural therapies may be used alone or in conjunction with curative treatment to help ease pleural mesothelioma symptoms. Some alternative therapies for pleural mesothelioma include breathing techniques, acupuncture, and proper nutrition.
While non-medical treatments may ease symptoms, they are not a substitute for medical treatment from mesothelioma doctors and specialists.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the protective lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating (distention) of the stomach
- Changes in bowel habits (bowel obstruction)
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Fever and night sweats
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)
- Malnutrition and loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
As peritoneal mesothelioma tumors develop, it becomes difficult for the abdominal lining to move, causing a painful, bloated feeling in the stomach.
Misdiagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Since peritoneal mesothelioma affects the stomach area, patients with this condition may be misdiagnosed as having a digestive problem or another type of abdominal-related condition.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptom Management
Some ways to help manage your peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are:
- Cytoreduction/Debulking: This procedure involves removing visible tumors from the abdomen, with the goal of stopping or slowing the spread of cancer.
- Paracentesis: In this procedure, doctors remove extra fluid from the abdominal cavity to relieve pressure and improve digestive and respiratory functions.
Alternative therapies may also be used as a form of palliative care to help peritoneal mesothelioma patients manage their pain, nausea, and stress.
How Do You Know If You Have Mesothelioma?
Only a biopsy can confirm whether you have mesothelioma. However, knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma may help you receive an earlier diagnosis, the best treatment options, and a better prognosis.
Some doctors recommend that patients with a known history of asbestos exposure get regular imaging tests — such as X-rays or computed tomography scans (CT scans) — to detect any signs of cancer early on.
- Trouble Breathing
The Mayo Clinic recommends: If you are experiencing mesothelioma symptoms, consult your doctor. During your visit, you can share your symptoms and asbestos exposure history.
How Quickly Do Mesothelioma Symptoms Progress?
It only takes a few months for untreated mesothelioma symptoms to worsen and become severe. On average, patients who do not receive treatment live around 6 months after diagnosis.
Treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can help slow down the progression of your symptoms and improve your life expectancy.
When to See a Mesothelioma Specialist
If you experience possible mesothelioma symptoms — even if you are unsure whether you were exposed to asbestos — see your doctor as soon as possible and tell them what you know about your exposure history.
Your doctor should order imaging tests to examine your lungs or wherever your symptoms seem to originate from. To get a proper mesothelioma diagnosis, seek out a doctor who has experience with diagnosing and treating this type of cancer.
Contact a member of our team today for help finding a mesothelioma cancer center or specialist near you.
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)