Mesothelioma Symptoms

Amy Fair R.N.
Medically Reviewed and Fact Checked by:
Amy Fair R.N., Director of Medical Relations

Diagnosing an asbestos-related disease can be challenging due to the diseases’ long latency periods. Symptoms of these diseases may not arise for 10, 20, or even 50 years after asbestos exposure. When symptoms do begin to appear, they are often similar to those of less serious conditions and respiratory illnesses, making asbestos-related diseases even more difficult to accurately diagnose.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The three most common asbestos-related diseases are mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Listed below are the most common symptoms related to each disease. If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately.

There are three main types of mesothelioma, each affecting a different part of the body. Symptoms vary depending on the type of mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, or the pleura.

Early symptoms often include:

  • Chest or lower back pain
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include:

  • Persistent hoarseness or dry coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful breathing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Rib pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Weight loss
  • Pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the lung lining)

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen, or the peritoneum.

Early symptoms often include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Change in bowel habits

Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in stool
  • Occasional rib and/or upper back pain

Symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer that develops within the lining of the heart, or the pericardium.

Symptoms may include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations or murmurs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Pericardial effusion (fluid buildup in the pericardial space)

Symptoms of Other Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestosis Symptoms

Asbestosis is a chronic, non-cancerous respiratory disease.

Symptoms of asbestosis may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Crackling sound when breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in neck or face

Lung Cancer Symptoms

The ratio of lung cancer diagnosed in people directly exposed to asbestos is significantly higher than in the general population.

Some of the more common symptoms of asbestos lung cancer include:

  • Persistent hoarseness or coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Anemia


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Amy Fair R.N.Reviewed by:Amy Fair R.N.

Director of Medical Relations

  • Fact-Checked
  • Medical Reviewer

Amy fills a unique role helping guide patients and families through the often confusing and overwhelming steps following an asbestos-related cancer diagnosis. Assisted by 14 medical assistants and a Licensed Practical Nurse, Amy and her medical team provide healthcare information and explain treatment options to those recently diagnosed and throughout the progression of their disease.