Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed in approximately 3,000 Americans each year. This form of cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. The disease starts in the layer of cells covering certain parts of the body, especially the lungs, heart, or abdomen. Unlike other cancers that are characterized by a single tumor mass, malignant mesothelioma spreads throughout the chest cavity as an invasion of a large number of smaller masses. The tumor is usually diagnosed in late stages because most symptoms show up years after the initial exposure to asbestos.

Types of Malignant Mesothelioma

This rare disease can be classified into three different types: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma. People who have been exposed to asbestos may also develop testicular mesothelioma. The most common form of the disease is pleural mesothelioma. This type of cancer comprises about 70 percent of all mesothelioma cases. It affects the membrane that surrounds and protects the chest and lungs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for approximately 30 percent of diagnosed cases. This form of cancer develops in the abdominal lining, causing severe weight loss, fever, fluid buildup in the abdomen, problems with bowel function, and abdominal pain. Anemia, nausea, and vomiting may also occur.

Pericardial mesothelioma starts in the membrane lining the heart. This lethal disease accounts for one to six percent of all mesothelioma cases. Patients diagnosed with this form of cancer may experience fever, night sweats, chest pain, difficulty breathing, murmurs, shortness of breath, blood clots, and palpitations. Most people suffering from pericardial mesothelioma don't notice any symptoms until the later stages of the disease.

Malignant Mesothelioma Symptoms

The first symptoms of malignant mesothelioma may not appear up to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. The main symptoms associated with this rare disease include shortness of breath, chest wall pain, pleural effusion, hoarseness, blood in the sputum, cough, and weight loss. Symptoms usually vary from patient to patient. Early detection improves survival chances.

This disease has varied symptoms that may indicate less serious illnesses such as flu, asthma, pneumonia, gastrointestinal problems, and bronchitis. For this reason, malignant mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed. In late stage of the disease, patience may present superior vena caval invasion, bowel obstruction, and esophageal compression.

Diagnosing Malignant Mesothelioma

Diagnosis usually begins with a review of your medical history and a physical examination. If your doctor believes that you may suffer from malignant mesothelioma, he will recommend an MRI or a CT scan. The tumor is generally detected by cytopathology or biopsy. Patients may also be required to undergo a laparoscopy, a thoracoscopy, or a pericardiocentesis. Diagnosing this disease is very difficult because of its rarity. Treatment options depend on the extent of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation. We can help you find out more about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, and take legal action against the company you worked for. Complete the form on this page to get a free mesothelioma information packet.