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Mesothelioma - symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted
Global asbestos awareness week 1-7 April 2017

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which mainly affects the lining of the lungs. Nearly all cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos fibres which can easily get stuck in and damage the lungs, and whilst this may not cause any problems straight away, it can lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma decades later.                           

Symptoms of mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma do not tend to appear for decades after the exposure to asbestos and develop slowly over time. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • A persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Clubbed fingertips
  • A fever

If the mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Vomiting or feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

If you have been exposed to asbestos and are worried about any of the above symptoms that you may be experiencing you should see your GP as soon as possible.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are aged between 60 and 80 years old and men are more likely to be diagnosed than women. If you present symptoms of mesothelioma and you have had previous exposure to asbestos your GP will refer you to a specialist who will carry out the following tests to help diagnose the disease and to see if and how far it has spread:

  • X-ray of your chest or abdomen
  • A CT scan
  • An internal examination using a camera inserted through a small incision – this will be carried out under anaesthetic or sedation
  • A biopsy of tissue

How is mesothelioma treated?

Unfortunately mesothelioma has usually reached an advanced stage at the point of diagnosis and it is rarely possible to cure it. There are however treatments available that can help to keep symptoms under control and prolong life for as long as possible. General health and how far the cancer has spread will be taken into account when determining which treatment will be the most effective. Treatments for mesothelioma include:

  • Surgery (providing the mesothelioma is diagnosed at an early stage)
  • Chemotherapy to help shrink the cancer
  • Radiotherapy to slow the progression of the cancer down and keep it under control

Individual symptoms of the condition can also be treated, for example, painkillers to control any pain and fluid draining from the lungs to help with breathing difficulties.

Claiming compensation for mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can have a huge impact on those diagnosed and their families who may have to come to terms with the premature loss of a loved one. Our industrial disease solicitors are experienced in helping those who have been negligently exposed to asbestos and have a track record of obtaining compensation for them and their families. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma call us on 01616 966 229 for a free no obligation discussion about your potential claim and how we can help and support you to get the compensation that you deserve.

Read more about making a compensation claim for mesothelioma