Hundreds of thousands of people have been exposed to asbestos through their jobs, military service, or in their homes and offices. Asbestos exposure can cause a variety of diseases, including mesothelioma. Signs of these devastating illnesses do not often arise until decades later, however.
Most people think mesothelioma affects only the lungs or causing lung cancer. However, there are several other kinds of asbestos-related mesothelioma that are much less common, but often are just as deadly. Some rarer varieties also affect the lining of the heart, the lining of the stomach and the lining of the testicles.
If you worked with asbestos in the past or attended schools where asbestos was present for example, you may be at risk for developing the disease. It’s important to know what the symptoms of mesothelioma are and talk to your doctor if you suspect a problem. Make sure to mention that you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the past.
Symptoms develop when tumors form in the tunica vaginalis, the protective lining covering the testicles. This kind of mesothelioma is very rare but causes severe inflammation and pain. Patients may confuse these symptoms with those of other injuries like a hernia or muscle injury. Men who have been diagnosed with this rare form of cancer report the following symptoms:
- Lumps in the scrotum
- Fluid buildup in the scrotum
Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. Symptoms vary among victims and may be more or less severe depending on how advanced the disease is and when the diagnosis is made. Early symptoms of chest or lower-back pain and shortness of breath may make it difficult for your doctor to distinguish it from an ordinary chest cold or bronchitis.
However, if you have any symptoms including those below, insist that your doctor do more advanced tests if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past:
- Persistent hoarseness or a dry cough
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain while breathing
- Excessive tiredness
- Weight loss
Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum. Early symptoms include what many victims assume is an upset stomach. You may feel severe abdominal swelling and pain and notice a change in your normal bowel habits. Long-term symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Bowel obstructions
- Weight loss
This disease develops within the lining of the heart, called the pericardium. Because it affects the heart’s function, you may notice symptoms sooner than you would with other kinds of mesothelioma, such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations or murmurs
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
- Asbestosis: A chronic, non-cancerous respiratory disease that results in shortness of breath, a crackling sound when breathing, persistent cough, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, excessive fatigue and swelling in the neck or face.
- Lung Cancer: People who have been exposed to asbestos, have a much greater chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer than the someone who hasn’t been exposed. They often exhibit the same symptoms as many of the diseases above including shortness of breath, persistent coughing or hoarseness, chest pain and anemia.
This list of asbestos-related diseases isn’t exhaustive, and the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. The most important thing you can you do is talk to your doctor and let him or her know how long ago you were potentially exposed and under what circumstances.
If You Have Ever Been Exposed to Asbestos, Contact a Lawyer, Too
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness or have lost a loved one to mesothelioma or asbestos-related cancer, contact a personal injury lawyer to understand your legal rights. Compensation is available for victims and their family members through trust funds and other sources. You are welcome to contact us online if you have any questions.