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It can take decades after asbestos exposure for the symptoms of one of the four main types of mesothelioma to appear.
Mesothelioma symptoms can appear 20 to 40 years or longer after airborne particles and fibers of asbestos are inhaled or swallowed. This makes early detection difficult.
While the four types of mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular) have some common symptoms, differences do exist among them (scroll down to compare). The difficulty for diagnosticians is that the various types of mesothelioma exhibit symptoms similar to those of other, less serious health problems. Telling them apart therefore takes time and often requires expensive testing.
Early detection of mesothelioma symptoms is an important goal. In fact, many health professionals say that the goal should actually be early detection of the symptoms of asbestos exposure, before they metastasize into mesothelioma symptoms. Either way, catching the disease before it becomes worse opens the door to more options for treatment and affords a better chance of living longer. Consequently, health experts recommend that anyone who was exposed to asbestos be regularly tested for asbestos caused mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases and it develops in the pleura (the lining of the lungs) after inhaled asbestos becomes lodged there. Symptoms begin when lung tissue damaged and scarred by the trapped asbestos particles becomes so stiff that the lungs themselves no longer expand and contract normally.
Among the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma of the pleural cavity are:
Approximately 15 percent of all mesothelioma cases are peritoneal mesothelioma (abdominal mesothelioma), which develops in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen).
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the pericardium (the tissues surrounding the heart). Fewer than 10 percent of all mesothelioma cases are of the pericardial mesothelioma type.
Known symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:
Testicular mesothelioma (also called mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis) is the rarest type of mesothelioma. It develops in the tissue surrounding the testicles.
Owing to its rarity, little is known about the scope of symptoms associated with this form of the disease. The most prominent symptom is the presence of a mass on the testicle and these two:
Symptoms of mesothelioma can appear in areas of the body where the cancer didn’t develop. This most often signals metastasis, which is the spread of cancer to other regions in the body. Here are the major symptoms:
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