SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the cancer occurs.
Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs, causes signs and symptoms that may include:
- Chest pain under the rib cage
- Painful coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
- Unexplained weight loss
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in tissue in the abdomen, causes signs and symptoms that may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
Other forms of mesothelioma
Signs and symptoms of other types of mesothelioma are unclear, since these forms of the disease are very rare. Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects tissue that surrounds the heart, can cause signs and symptoms such as breathing difficulty and chest pains. Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis, which affects tissue surrounding the testicles, may be first detected as swelling or a mass on a testicle.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that may indicate mesothelioma. Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma aren't specific to this disease and, due to the rarity of mesothelioma, are more likely to be related to other conditions. If any persistent signs and symptoms seem unusual or bothersome, ask your doctor to evaluate them. Tell your doctor if you've been exposed to asbestos fibers.
- Malignant pleural mesothelioma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug, 30, 2012.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1709/0.html. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.
- Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/192068760-2/0/1288/0.html. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.
- Chekol SS, et al. Malignant mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis: Diagnostic studies and differential diagnosis. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2012;136:113.
- Mirarabshahii P, et al. Diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: An update on treatment. Cancer Treatment Reviews. 2012;38:605.
- Kamal AH, et al. Dyspnea review for the palliative care professional: Treatment goals and therapeutic options. Palliative Care Review. 2012;15:106.
- Malignant mesothelioma treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malignantmesothelioma/patient. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.
- Frequently asked questions about cancer, simian virus 40 (SV40) and polio vaccine. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/updates/archive/polio_and_cancer.htm. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.
- Rosenow EC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 11, 2012.
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Asbestos. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/hazards.html. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.
- Asbestos: Basic information. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/help.html. Accessed Aug. 30, 2012.