What are the symptoms of mesothelioma? Question 8

Mesothelioma has a very long latency period (the time from the initial asbestos exposure to the development of cancer), making it doubly treacherous. This latency period can be anywhere from 25 to 40 years. 

The length of time it takes patients to report symptoms varies but can range from two weeks to two years, with the average being about two months. As many as 25% of patients with the disease can have symptoms for six months or more before seeking medical attention. 

Due to its slow onset, the disease tends to affect people between 50 and 70 years of age. It affects men three to five times more often than women and is less common in African Americans than in Caucasians. The right side of the chest is affected more than the left. The right lung is bigger than the left lung, or the right lung is of greater size and volume than the left lung.

Latency period  The time between the actual exposure to a carcinogen like asbestos and the development of cancer, i.e. mesothelioma.  

The most common features associated with the development of symptoms include the presence of fluid, thickening of the pleura, and specific nodules or tumors that may develop in the chest or abdomen.

Over half of the patients have chest pain, usually located low in the chest and toward the back and side. The pain has usually increased over time and can be severe enough to require narcotic pain medication. 

Severe, uncontrolled pain may be a sign of tumor invasion into the chest wall. The chest wall refers to the structures outside the lungs that move as a part of breathing, including the rib cage and diaphragm. 

Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) is another symptom commonly seen with this disease. This shortness of breath is usually due to fluid that has accumulated in the pleural space (the space between the chest wall and the lung) from the cancer. 

This fluid accumulation is called a pleural effusion. In 95% of the cases, patients with pleural mesothelioma will have a pleural effusion at some time during the course of the disease. Cough, fever, fatigue, and weight loss will occur in about 30% of cases, and a small minority will have hoarseness or will cough up blood (hemoptysis). 

In only about 5% will the disease have spread out of the initial area of cancer (metastasis), usually traveling from the pleura spreading to the lungs, which can cause these last symptoms to occur.

In abdominal or peritoneal mesothelioma, patients most frequently have increased abdominal swelling from fluid that has accumulated in the abdomen (ascites). They may also have pain and weight loss. 

Pain in the abdomen is usually due to an increase in the amount of solid tumor they have, and not because of fluid. Weight loss can be due to a decreased appetite because of the disease.

Chest pain  Discomfort in the chest that can be a feeling of “heaviness” to a constant boring pain requiring narcotics.
Dyspnea  Difficult, painful breathing or shortness of breath. One of the early symptoms of mesothelioma in the pleura due to the accumulation of fluid in the chest.
Pleural effusion  An abnormal collection of fluid between the thin layers of tissue (pleura) lining the lung and the wall of the chest cavity.
Hemoptysis  Coughing up blood.  
Metastasis (meh-TAS-ta-sis)  The spread of cancer  from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a “metastatic tumor” or a “metastasis.” The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural form of metastasis is metastases (meh-TAS-taseez).
Ascites (ah-SYE-teez)  Abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen that may cause swelling. In latestage cancer, tumor cells maybe found in the fluid in the abdomen. Ascites is a common manifestation of peritoneal mesothelioma and can occur as a manifestation of recurrent mesothelioma after surgery for the disease in the chest.  

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma? Question 8 What are the symptoms of mesothelioma? Question 8 Reviewed by Ari on 10:58 PM Rating: 5

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