Mesothelioma: symptoms and risk factors

Thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. The latency period for mesothelioma is particularly long. Consequently, it has decades to establish itself in the body before disease diagnosis and treatment.

Especially for people in high-risk occupations due to asbestos exposure, it is critical to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms associated with mesothelioma. The earlier it can be detected, the more treatment options are available and therefore, the higher the chance of survival.

Detecting mesothelioma in the very beginning is difficult because the symptoms – such as chest or abdominal pain – are so slight as to be mistaken for normal pains or other, less serious forms cancer. Some early-stage symptoms that may surface are shortness of breath, respiratory complications, coughing and muscle weakness.

Once mesothelioma has reached stage three or four, chances of survival are significantly decreased because by then, the cancer has often spread to other organs. Some late-stage symptoms include increased pain, loss of appetite, anemia, difficulty swallowing and bowel obstruction.

Because of its elusive nature and tendency toward misdiagnosis, it is important to inform the doctor of any possible asbestos exposure. Although everyone is exposed to small amounts of asbestos in their lifetime, people who develop mesothelioma usually have direct, regular exposure to asbestos. Some common occupations with such hazardous exposure are construction workers, textile manufacturers, shipbuilders, and of course, asbestos miners.

Additional risk factors include a pre-existing lung disease – which can exacerbate mesothelioma – and smoking. Smokers who are exposed to asbestos have a greater chance of developing lung cancer than non-smokers who are exposed to asbestos.

It is important to be aware of risk factors for developing an asbestos-related disease and to regularly monitor any mesothelioma symptoms. In the event that mesothelioma was contracted due to asbestos exposure in the workplace, a lawsuit may assist in obtaining the compensation necessary to cover the cost of medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.