Understanding and Dealing with Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a rare and lethal form of cancer that attacks an internal membrane known as the mesothelium. The mesothelium protects several major organs in our body, including the walls of the abdominal cavity and chest cavity. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibers gradually accumulate in one’s body, cause scarring, and eventually lead to inflammation of the organ and the development of an asbestos-related illness. Mesothelioma symptoms are usually not demonstrated by many patients until 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. Previously, it was difficult to diagnose this cancer as mesothelioma symptoms resemble many basic illnesses such as emphysema, congestive heart failure, and more.

There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma: Pleural (affecting the lining of the lungs), pericardial (heart), and peritoneal (abdomen) mesothelioma. However, pleural mesothelioma is regarded as the most common form of this disease. Symptoms for this type of mesothelioma can be quite understated. An individual may experience pleural effusion, which is an accumulation of fluid between the visceral pleura (pleura covering the lungs) and parietal pleura (the pleura covering the diaphragm and chest wall). These membranes are covered by mesothelial cells, which produce a small quantity of fluid. The fluid acts as a lubricant between the lung and chest wall. Any excess fluid coming out is absorbed by lymph and blood vessels thus maintaining a balance. However, when excess fluid accumulates, it results in effusion. This increase in fluid volume results in many mesothelioma symptoms such as shortness of breath, dry cough, and heart pain.

Although mesothelioma symptoms may occur, it is still difficult to diagnose mesothelioma due to its latency period. The period between an individual’s initial exposure to asbestos until the time when mesothelioma symptoms manifest themselves may be long. However, if one is diagnosed with…

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