Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that’s known for creating abnormal collections of fluid. In the case of mesothelioma the fluids in the linings surrounding the organs thicken and can make breathing difficult. Doctors retrieve samples of the fluid as partial diagnosis to help them determine whether the condition is mesothelioma.
If you experience a swelling in your abdomen along with fatigue, discomfort, difficulty breathing, possibly nausea and loss of appetite, see your doctor immediately. If you’ve had any exposure to asbestos or worked with products that might have contained asbestos, alert your doctor during your examination and history taking.
In the case of malignant mesothelioma, the fluid diagnosis will include extracting some of the ascites fluid (a buildup of fluid often found with cancer) from the lining of either the lungs (the pleura) or the lining that encloses the abdomen (the peritoneum).
The fluid is caused by irritation of the cells on the surface of the linings. In some cases it might affect the person's circulation, which would also result in a fluid buildup. If the cancer has affected the lymphatic system, a system of fine pathways through the body that drains off excess fluid, ascites fluid can build up.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the abdomen, is a less common form of the disease, but it seems to develop in a shorter period after asbestos exposure than the pleural variety—often in 20 to 30 years versus 30 to 40 years.
While a fluid diagnosis of the peritoneal fluid is useful in determining whether malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is present, it is often not sufficient. The most accurate way to know if a lung cancer is mesothelioma is to obtain a sample of the cancerous tissue itself.