Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma symptoms may vary, depending on the part of the body where the tumors have developed. Patients with pleural mesothelioma will have different symptoms than those with peritoneal mesothelioma, and patients with pericardial mesothelioma will have different symptoms than those with testicular mesothelioma.

The majority of symptoms occur in the general area of the primary tumor, although some may affect the entire body. Most symptoms gradually become more severe over time.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs and some of its common symptoms include:

  • A dry or raspy cough that persists for days
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Pain in the chest, neck, shoulders or ribs
  • Painful breathing, often accompanied by faint or harsh breathing sounds
  • Reduced chest expansion
  • Visible lumps that protrude underneath the skin on the chest
  • Pleural effusions

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen and sufferers may experience:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Hernias
  • Persistent feeling of fullness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Night sweats

Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart. Common symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Heart murmurs
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) – especially when lying flat

Because few patients have been diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma, researchers have not conclusively linked specific symptoms with this type of cancer. However, patients have reported swelling and/or fluid accumulation in one or both of their testicles. 

Most symptoms do not arise until later in the progression of the cancer. Because the warning signs can also be attributed to other common conditions such as pneumonia, several different diagnostic tests may be necessary to correctly pinpoint the cause. A biopsy, such as a chest X-ray, CT scan or blood test, is required to diagnose mesothelioma. 

When to See a Doctor for Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer and many of the symptoms patients experience are linked to other conditions. Therefore, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you start to experience worrisome symptoms or symptoms that are unusual and persistent, especially if you have ever been exposed to asbestos in your life.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we welcome patients who believe they have the symptoms of mesothelioma, patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma but want a second opinion and patients who are ready to begin seeking treatment for a confirmed diagnosis. No referral is necessary; simply call us at 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form.


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