Mesothelioma is notoriously hard to diagnose early on, due to its long latency period. In other words, it’s a disease that slowly builds up over a long period of time – and often, doctors don’t catch it until it is in its advanced, deadly stages. By learning to recognize some of the early signs, you might be able to seek treatment for yourself or a loved one before the disease becomes more severe.
What causes mesothelioma
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Manufacturers used to use it commonly to make pipes, ductwork, insulation and other building materials. Asbestos is still present in some buildings and other environments, despite legislation to limit its use.
When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they become airborne. If you breathe them in over a long period of time, they can cause scarring and inflammation in your lungs. This scarring is one of the most common causes of various types of lung cancer and other respiratory conditions, including mesothelioma.
Early signs of mesothelioma
It can be nearly impossible to diagnose mesothelioma in its earliest stages, since no symptoms are likely to arise until the disease has had time to build up.
If you know that you have been exposed to asbestos over a considerable period of time, it’s a good idea to get regular chest x-rays so that doctors can monitor whether there are changes in your lung tissue that could be indicative of mesothelioma.
Once the disease is underway, however, symptoms can become more pronounced and easier to recognize. These symptoms often include:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Chest pain, and pain while coughing
- Weight loss
- Lumps under the skin on your chest
Sadly, there is no sure way to cure mesothelioma once it develops. But if you are able to catch it early enough, you may have treatment options available to you that can help to lessen your discomfort and minimize the symptoms of this terrible disease.