How Can I Tell if a Loved One Might Have Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a devastating disease. Though not common, it is an aggressive form of cancer that usually is not diagnosed until it reaches an advanced stage. Because of this, it is rarely curable and often results in a patient’s death. Still, early detection is better than discovering the disease late.

Many people wonder: Is there any way to tell if a loved one might have mesothelioma, such as early signs or symptoms? The truth is, there is no way to diagnose mesothelioma without medical tests, but there are some potential warnings signs worth monitoring.

Consider Their Work History

Mesothelioma affects the membrane or lining around certain organs. It most commonly appears in the pleura, a sac around the lungs and chest cavity. It may also show up in the lining around the abdominal cavity or heart, and in very rare cases, the testicles.

Experts believe the main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers. Unfortunately, that was the case for millions of workers throughout the 20th century. Asbestos was a widely used insulator and fire retardant, and ended up in countless products. Some careers that frequently exposed workers to the dangerous fibers include:

  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Deckhands, sailors and shipyard workers
  • Construction workers
  • Firefighters
  • Factory workers
  • Miners
  • Ironworkers
  • Textile operators
  • Railroad workers

You can see more careers here.

More recently, workers who demolished old buildings or removed outdated equipment may also have been exposed to asbestos.

Symptoms to Watch For

If a loved one you’re concerned about worked in a field that included contact with asbestos, then you may want to consider watching for symptoms of mesothelioma. There are a few things to keep in mind, however.

Many of these symptoms can be signs of other ailments, so do not jump to conclusions. In addition, the type of mesothelioma can affect which symptoms appear. For example, mesothelioma around the lungs might cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • A painful cough
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on their chest

Signs of mesothelioma in the abdomen, meanwhile, might result in:

  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Swelling in the area
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss

As mentioned above, knowing a loved one’s work history and seeing some of these symptoms does not mean they have mesothelioma. You need a medical test from a professional to determine what is going on.

Depending on their answer, you may be able to work with an attorney to trace how a loved one might have contracted the disease, where they were exposed to asbestos – and whether anyone was at fault for putting your loved one in harm’s way.