What is mesothelioma: Symptoms and Causes

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs. Cancer cells can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. They can also spread from their original site to others parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum).

What are the symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.

What causes Mesothelioma?

Each year in the United States, about 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. It usually takes between 10 and 40 years for mesothelioma to appear after a person first inhales asbestos. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.

 

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