What are the symptoms and signs of mesothelioma?

People who have been exposed to asbestos, whether it was 40 days or 40 years ago, may not have even realized that their health may have been put in danger as a result of that exposure. People can easily breathe in dust particles containing asbestos day after day without knowing that the asbestos fibers can be doing serious damage to their lungs and other organs.

Unfortunately, by the time people do realize they are struggling with an illness caused by asbestos, it is too late for treatment to be effective. The tragic reality of asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma is that it can take decades for symptoms to start showing up, and even then the condition can be misdiagnosed as something much less serious. People who know or believe they have been exposed to asbestos should be aware of what the early symptoms of mesothelioma are so they can seek medical care as soon as possible.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that can occur when asbestos enters a person’s body and causes damage to the mesothelium, a thin layer of membranes surrounding a person’s lungs, heart, abdomen or other organ. From there, cancerous tumors can develop and start growing. It can take several years for this to happen, but at some point the cancer can become very aggressive; this means that early diagnosis can be crucial.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of mesothelioma can vary, depending on where in a person’s body the cancer is growing. For those suffering from pleural mesothelioma, a common type affect the lungs, the symptoms include:

  • Painful coughing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps of tissue developing under the skin, found on the chest
  • Pain under the rib cage
  • Shortness of breath

Unfortunately, these symptoms can be indicators of a number of other conditions as well. Some of them are not necessarily serious, so doctors may not be that concerned with securing additional testing or prescribing aggressive treatments.

This is why it is so important to be aware of any potential asbestos exposure in the past. Sharing this information with a doctor can improve the chances of an accurate and swift diagnosis. And with legal support, victims can work to secure compensation to help cover the costs of long-term and extensive health care.