Mesothelioma is a rare, deadly cancer that is directly tied to asbestos. Workers who were exposed to high levels of asbestos and their families, who were often exposed to the disease by the fibers the workers carried home on their clothing, can develop this disease.
This cancer affects the tissue layer that surrounds many internal organs, including the lungs. In fact, pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this cancer, but other forms also exist, including peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdomen, and pericardial mesothelioma, a condition that attacks the heart.
The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, face and arm swelling, trouble swallowing, and chest or back pain, among other ailments. Since these symptoms are also indicative of other conditions, diagnosis of the disease may not be made until the patient is already quite ill.
Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms may include pain in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, constipation and swelling in the abdomen.