Mesothelioma is cancer that forms in the mesothelium, or membrane, of various organs, such as the lungs, heart, and digestive system. Symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where cancer develops. General symptoms may include unexplained weight loss, fever, night sweats, and fatigue.
In general, the symptoms of mesothelioma are nonspecific, which means that similar symptoms are also caused by many other diseases. This can complicate the process of mesothelioma diagnosis.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Malignant pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, which is a membrane that surrounds the lungs. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
Dyspnea (shortness of breath).
This may occur due to the space that the cancer takes up in the chest, which can put pressure on the airways or on the lungs themselves, leaving less room for air movement. It may also be due to a pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid around the lungs that restricts their ability to fill with air.
This is often related to irritation or compression of the airways by the cancer. It can also happen when the cancer puts pressure on certain nerves, or because of the inflammatory response of the body to the cancer, which can trigger a cough response.
This occurs as the cancer invades the tissues of the chest.
This can occur when the cancer grows large enough to put pressure on the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
Swelling of the face and/or arms
This can happen when the cancer puts pressure on structures of the lymphatic system, which drains excess fluid from tissues. If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, then it can block the flow of lymphatic fluid, leading to swelling in certain areas.