Introduction: Malignant mesothelioma is a disease in which cancer(malignant) cells are found in the lungs pleural sac (pleural mesothelioma), or the peritoneum lining of the abdominal cavity(peritoneal mesothelioma). Shortness of breath and pain in the chest are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling. Mesothelioma is most commonly found in people who worked in jobs where they breathed absestos. A history of asbestos exposure exists in almost all cases. Mesothelioma symptoms may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma treatment depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health.
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
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