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Could your symptoms mean that you have mesothelioma?

Anyone who had environmental exposures to asbestos in the past is at risk of developing cancer. One cancer, known as mesothelioma, is very slow to develop and may take decades to manifest. Below are some signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of pleural mesothelioma, which affects lung tissue.

-- Coughing that brings pain

-- Shortness of breath

-- Pain beneath rib cage

-- Unexplained weight loss

-- Lumps beneath the skin of the chest wall

There is another form of cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, that affects abdominal tissue. Its signs and symptoms include:

-- Abdominal swelling and pain

-- Lumps in abdominal area

-- Unexplained weight loss

Rarer forms of the disease include pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis. The former involves tissue surrounding the heart and may start with chest pain and breathing difficulties, the latter with swelling around the testicles.

Because all of the various symptoms of mesothelioma can also be attributed to many other conditions, it is vital that anyone who is experiencing such symptoms see a doctor promptly in order to receive a correct diagnosis. Only then will you be able to proceed with a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to treat mesothelioma.

It is also important to notify your physician if you were exposed to asbestos, even if the exposure was 30 or 40 years ago. Tracing a current diagnosis back to an old exposure is not easy, but it can be done. Those who suspect that an earlier environmental exposure is responsible for their present condition can pursue the matter further by filing litigation in the civil courts.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Mesothelioma - Symptoms," accessed Oct. 22, 2015

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