Symptoms and Diagnosis

What are the Symptoms?

For Pleural (lungs), Peritoneal (abdomen) and Pericardial (heart) Mesothelioma, symptoms vary and are often confused with more common illnesses (e.g. the flu).  Some common typical symptoms are included in the chart below.

For Testicular Mesothelioma common symptoms include testicular pain, lumps and swelling.

SYMPTOMS Pleural (lungs) Peritoneal (abdomen) Pericardial (heart)
Abdominal Distention    
Abdominal Swelling or Tenderness  
Loss of Appetite
Chest Pains  
Constipation or Diarrhea    
Coughing up Blood    
Difficulty Breathing  
Difficulty Swallowing    
Feeling of Fullness    
Fluid Buildup
Lumps Under Abdominal Skin  
Lumps Under Skin of the Chest  
Heart Failure    
Heart Palpitations    
Irregular Heartbeat    
Night Sweats
Pressure on the Heart    
Reduced Chest Expansion    
Shortness of Breath
Weight Loss

How is it Treated?

Generally, Mesothelioma treatment options will depend on factors such as age, health, and the location, type and progression of the tumor.  Mesothelioma cancer, like many other cancers, is often treated with a combination of one or more of the following treatments: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and or experimental clinical trials.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy, which is administered through oral or IV-based medications, is the most widely used treatment used to kill, shrink and limit the growth of tumor cells in the body.  Chemotherapy is often used on it’s own, but it commonly used to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy or surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy, which uses radiation to target cancer cells, is a widely used treatment used to kill and shrink tumor cells.  Advanced radiation treatments like IMRT (Intensity Modulated RadioTherapy) target cancer cells even more precisely, helping to increase the effectiveness of radiation.
  • Surgery: Surgical procedures can reduce or remove tumors.  A number of factors determine if patients are good candidates for surgery.  Factors may include the patient’s health, tumor location, stage of the cancer, etc.  Approximately 20 percent of Pleural (lung) Mesothelioma patients are good candidates for surgery.
  • Experimental Clinical Trials: Experimental untested treatment therapies are conducted by and evaluated by researchers.  Patients generally must apply for clinical trials.  A number of factors determine if patients are good candidates for and accepted in clinical studies.

How is it Diagnosed?

Mesothelioma is very difficult to diagnose, and in many cases it may already have progressed to advanced stages before it is recognized. In most cases, a combination of the following will be used to diagnose the disease:

  • History of Possible Exposure
  • Physical Examination
  • Breathing Tests
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Blood Work
  • Biopsy
  • Chemical or Microscopic Analysis
  • Diagnostic Scans, such as PET scans, CT scans, X rays or MRIs of chest or abdominal cavity

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