Mesothelioma is one of those rare diseases, symptoms of which take 20 to 40 years to be detected. This latent period makes the disease fatal, because during this time the symptoms do not appear and when they start to appear, it becomes very late to check it.
There are various types of mesothelioma, namely pleural, peritoneal, pericardial etc. and the symptoms differ from patient to patient depending upon the type and also the stage of the disease. Initial symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to common health ailments like bronchitis, stomach ache, flu etc.; hence they are not given the required attention.
Patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma may have shortness of breath resulting in discomfort in swallowing or coughing. This discomfort in breathing is due to the presence of excess fluid between the linings of the lungs. This also leads to pain in chest and/or in abdomen. These pleural mesothelioma symptoms occur only at a later stage. The same are difficult to be caught at an early stage even in chest x-rays or physical examination. Some other symptoms that may indicate towards the disease are loss of appetite and hoarseness of voice. The primary symptoms disturb the normal functioning of the body, for instance patients find it difficult to sleep due to persistent coughing, which further leads to sleeplessness and fatigue as well.
Most of the symptoms are nearly similar in all mesothelioma types; they may differ slightly depending upon the location of the tumor. In cases of pericardial mesothelioma chest pain may be more severe than peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma cases.
People don’t get alarmed immediately on having coughing, or voice change or other such mild symptoms. It is only when they have breathing problems or when the other symptoms persist for too long that they seek medical advice. Severity of the symptoms varies depending upon the size of the tumor.
Medical experts can conclude the symptoms for mesothelioma by performing certain tests and going through the history of the patient for any exposure to asbestos. It is advisable for those who have exposure to asbestos to get regular medical checkups done for mesothelioma, rather than waiting for its symptoms to occur.