Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that stems from long-term and high-level exposure to asbestos dust and fibers that have become airborne. Asbestos was widely used in many countries, by many industries, and in many applications until the 1980s, when the dangers of exposure to this substance became widely known. It is now known that exposure to this substance can lead to various health problems, including respiratory problems, scarring of the lungs, and form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has a very long latency period and can lie dormant for decades from the time of exposure. As there are three variations of this cancer, each of which attacks a different area of the body, the related symptoms can vary. However, those who have worked with asbestos in the past are advised to familiarize themselves with symptoms for all variations of this cancer and to seek medical assistance should any of these symptoms manifest.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this disease and affects the lining around the lungs. Symptoms associated with this form of cancer include persistent coughing, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, weight loss, fever, rasping, coughing up blood, and severe shortness of breath even while resting. The second most common form of the cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, includes symptoms such as abdominal pains and weakness, weight loss, nausea, loss off appetite, abdominal swelling, and bowel obstruction. Pericardial mesothelioma, which is the rarest form of the cancer, includes symptoms such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations.
It is important to remember that the symptoms of all variations of mesothelioma can be very non-specific in nature, which increases the risk of a misdiagnosis. It is important to make your doctor aware that you have worked with asbestos in the past so that if you do experience any of these symptoms, a speedy and accurate diagnosis can be made.
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