The early signs of mesothelioma are subtle and resemble common ailments, according to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Complaints may include fatigue, muscle weakness, cough, fever and night sweats. As the disease progresses within the lungs, most patients experience lower back or side chest pain. Other common symptoms are shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, a persistent cough or coughing up blood. Mesothelioma outside the lungs may cause abdominal pain or swelling, nausea and vomiting.
The main risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, and the disease may not develop until decades later, warns the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. However, once symptoms occur, diagnosis usually follows within a few months. Symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the tumors as well as the presence of fluid buildup. As the tumors grow, respiratory distress and pain increase. Advanced stages may cause anemia, a bloody cough or a severe inability to swallow.
The most frequent place for mesothelioma to occur is within the lining of the lungs and chest wall, which accounts for the respiratory symptoms that develop, states the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. The second most frequent place is within the abdomen, typically causing fluid buildup and pain due to bowel obstruction. Rarely, mesothelioma may originate in the lining of the heart, causing chest pain and pressure, or within the testes, causing no noticeable symptoms except a lump or mass.