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What to Look for

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When a disease such as mesothelioma can begin with symptoms that are very similar to those of other illnesses, it's important to know what to look for. The first thing to consider is your history of possible exposure to asbestos. If there is any chance you may have been exposed—through your own work situation or from living in an area where asbestos was being mined or used to manufacture goods, or if you lived with someone who worked in such an environment—even if it was 50 years ago—be sure to monitor your health closely.

Also, find a doctor who understands the link between asbestos and lung diseases and who will help you identify what to look for if you should begin experiencing symptoms.

Early lung cancer

Since mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer, your first clues might be similar to those of other early lung cancers. What to look for: Chest pain and/or trouble breathing that are not related to exercise may be early indicators. Because pleural effusion (fluid in the lungs) is a symptom of early lung cancer in many cases, it may be one symptom your doctor will look for. But there will also be others you should be on the lookout for as well.

Lung cancer symptoms

Severe chest pain of any kind is often one of early lung cancer symptoms. Lower back and hip pain are additional common presenting symptoms. Mesothelioma pain can present in many ways but it's important to understand lung cancer symptoms in general so you'll know what to look for with mesothelioma:

  • Persistent coughing that doesn't quit
  • Blood in your sputum
  • Being short of breath and/or wheezing
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Weight lost without effort
  • Unusual fatigue

What else to look for

These symptoms may be signs of early lung cancer or they may be related to other, less-serious conditions. See your doctor if you notice any of these; only diagnostic tests combined with a complete medical history, including a past history of exposure to asbestos, can help you find out what may be wrong, including a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

  • Feeling weak
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Unexplained problems with your nails
  • Pains in your joints
  • Changes in your voice
  • Swelling or numbness in your face
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Pain or tenderness in your bones