Malignant mesothelioma is cancer that starts in the cells that line certain parts of the body, especially the chest and belly (abdomen). The lining formed by these cells is called mesothelium. These cells protect organs by making a special fluid that allows the organs to move. For instance, this fluid makes it easier for the lungs to move during breathing.
The mesothelium has different names in different parts of the body:
- In the chest it is called the pleura.
- In the belly it is called the peritoneum.
- In the space around the heart it is called the pericardium.
Tumors of the mesothelium can be benign or they can be cancer. A cancer tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma, but this is often shortened to just mesothelioma. About 3 out of 4 mesotheliomas start in the chest cavity. These are called pleural mesotheliomas. Another 10%-20% begin in the abdomen (belly). These are called peritoneal mesotheliomas. Those starting around the heart are very rare. This cancer can also start in the tissue around the testicles, but this is also very rare.
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing, often painful
- Unexpected and unexplained loss of weight
- Pain under the rib cage
- Sometimes lumps may be detectable under the skin in the chest area
- Lower back pain
- Discomfort in the side of the chest
- Some people may experience sweating, fever, or difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain in the abdomen
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Lumps in the abdomen
- Nausea, some patients may experience vomiting
Pericardial mesothelioma (lining in the heart area)
- Low blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention (edema), often in the legs
- Heart palpitations
- Fatigue, extreme after light exertion
As you will note, none of these symptoms are rare or sufficiently unique that it would preclude a diagnosis other than Mesothelioma. Because mesothelioma’s symptoms are not unique to it and the disease’s relative rarity, cases of mesothelioma misdiagnosed are not uncommon. A review of the patient’s medical and work history is an important part in assessing the risk of mesothelioma. It is important to share your case history of work experience (especially in shipyards and at construction sites) and asbestos exposure potential with your physicians if you feel mesothelioma is a risk. Asbestos fibres can also be carried into the home on clothing, inadvertently exposing the deadly fibres, and the risk of mesothelioma, to family members.
In addition to being misdiagnosed as a less severe Asbestos related disease such as Pleural Disease or a Lung cancer / adenocarcinoma Mesothelioma has been mistakenly diagnosed as:
- Ovarian cancer
- Respiratory infection
- Heart failure
- Viral pneumonia (type of Pneumonia)
- Lingering cold
- Pleural adenocarcinoma
- Bowel disease
- Bowel obstruction
- Lyme disease
3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer each year, and the average age of people afflicted is between 50 and 70 years or older. Mesothelioma cancer is most strongly associated with exposure to asbestos, and can remain latent in those exposed for 30 to 40 years. The facts that Mesothelioma is more prominent among the elderly, who often suffer from a variety of age related symptoms and that their asbestos exposure so long ago may have been forgotten or seem irrelevant also make it more difficult when diagnosing Mesothelioma.
Although the symptoms are not distinct or unique, the treatment for Mesothelioma is. This form of cancer does not respond well to standard radiation or chemotherapy treatments. This is why it is imperative to make an early diagnosis. A diagnosis in the early stages of any cancer is always key in enhancing and extending survival rates. A misdiagnosis can delay treatment and rob the patient of precious time. Moreover, a misdiagnosis prevents the injured party from seeking compensation from the culpable parties. A correct and concise diagnosis of an asbestos related disease is imperative when seeking to file claims within the judicial system or the bankruptcy courts.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any asbestos related condition, we can help you. Preserve your legal rights before time runs out. Our experienced Florida asbestos law firmof Reyes, O’Shea & Coloca, P.A are dedicated to the fight for the rights of these individuals stricken with mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions, who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.