Mesothelioma Causes and Symptoms: How to Spot Them Quickly & Act

Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that originates from the mesothelial cells, which are the protective linings that cover certain internal organs in the body. The most common site for mesothelioma to develop is the pleura, the lining of the lungs, but it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen, heart, or testicles. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a group of naturally occurring minerals that were widely used in various industries for their heat resistance and insulating properties.

Asbestos fibers are very small and can be inhaled or ingested, leading to their accumulation in the body’s tissues. Over time, these fibers can cause inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage to the mesothelial cells, eventually leading to the development of cancerous cells. It’s important to note that mesothelioma often has a long latency period, which means it may take decades for symptoms to appear after asbestos exposure.

There are several types of mesothelioma based on the location in the body where it develops:


Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleural), but can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal), heart (pericardial), or testicles (testicular).

The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a mineral once widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries. Symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on the location of the tumor, but here are some common symptoms associated with pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma:

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms:

  1. Chest Pain: Persistent, dull, or sharp pain in the chest or lower back.
  2. Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing, especially during physical activity.
  3. Persistent Cough: A chronic cough that may produce blood or sputum.
  4. Fatigue: General tiredness and lack of energy.
  5. Unexplained Weight Loss: Losing weight without a clear reason.
  6. Coughing Up Blood: Blood in the coughed-up sputum.
  7. Hoarseness: Changes in voice or hoarseness.
  8. Difficulty Swallowing: Trouble swallowing food or liquids.
  9. Swelling of the Face and Arms: Due to pressure on blood vessels by the tumor.
  10. Night Sweats: Excessive sweating during the night.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms:

  1. Abdominal Pain: Dull, aching pain in the abdomen or pelvis.
  2. Abdominal Swelling: Enlarged abdomen due to fluid accumulation (ascites).
  3. Unexplained Weight Loss: Losing weight without a clear reason.
  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Feeling sick to the stomach and vomiting.
  5. Change in Bowel Habits: Diarrhea, constipation, or other changes.
  6. Loss of Appetite: Not feeling hungry or a decreased interest in eating.
  7. Fatigue: General tiredness and lack of energy.
  8. Fever: Elevated body temperature.
  9. Anemia: Low red blood cell count, leading to fatigue and weakness.

It's important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other medical conditions, so experiencing them does not necessarily mean you have mesothelioma. However, if you have a history of asbestos exposure or are concerned about these symptoms, it's recommended to consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and evaluation.

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Written by Cassandra Williams

Cassandra Williams is a Senior Editing Manager at A2ZHealthy