Mesothelioma: The signs and symptoms of cancer

Mesothelioma is often caused by asbestos exposure, which can cause debilitating signs and symptoms of this rare form of cancer.

While mesothelioma is known as a rare form of cancer that is often obtained from asbestos exposure, it is still known as a debilitating disease that can wreak havoc on peoples' lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,700 people die every year in the United States from mesothelioma. Surprisingly, the disease can take up to 30 years to present itself once the patient is initially exposed to asbestos or other chemical irritants that can cause the disease.

Signs and symptoms to watch for

People who have pleural mesothelioma that affects the tissue surrounding the lungs may show signs including shortness of breath, painful coughing fits, sweating, exhaustion, unexpected weight loss, lower back pain, as well as pain directly under the rib cage. Peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the stomach may present itself as pain in the abdomen, weight loss, lumps and swelling in the abdomen. Finally, mesothelioma that occurs in the lining of the heart may cause the patient to have a low blood pressure, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fluid retention, chest pain and fatigue.

The cause

Many people are employed in positions where they were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Asbestos is a chemical that was commonly used for soundproofing, roofing, insulation and even ironing board covers. People who worked in steel mills, shipyards, construction sites, power plants and oil refineries were often exposed to this chemical. While these fibers are no longer being used in many products, they can still be found in older building and products. When asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, they build up in the organs and become embedded in the tissues. This buildup greatly increases a person's chance of getting cancer.

Treatment options

In some cases, once patients notice the symptoms and are diagnosed with the disease, it may be in its advanced stages. At this point, not much can be done in the way of treatment and therapy is focused on keeping the patient comfortable.

If the disease has been caught in its earlier stages, part of the affected lining of the organ may be removed in an attempt to get rid of the diseased cells. The entire lung may be removed depending on the severity of the situation. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also used to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

Legal attention during a hard time

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be overwhelmed with emotions. An attorney in North Carolina who has experience handling these types of cases may be able to discuss the matters surrounding your situation and explore your legal options.