Mesothelioma is a cancer that most often forms in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. As it grows and spreads, different physical and mental effects are felt in the body. Understanding what to expect, as well as receiving the proper resources and information from qualified experts, is a step in the right direction to treating this rare cancer.
Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma wonder exactly how the disease affects their body. You may be curious about what the cancer is doing to you physically and if there’s anything you can do to prepare for potential changes ahead.
There are steps you can take to prepare, such as making arrangements with family and friends for future help with chores and errand-running when physical activity becomes tiring. And there are resources available to help through the entire cancer experience.
Once inside the body, asbestos has the potential to slowly damage DNA in ways that cause a mesothelial cell to become cancerous. Once a cell becomes cancerous, the normal controls that regulate cell division are disrupted, causing the cell to divide uncontrollably. This process results in a buildup of cells that slowly forms into a tumor.
Mesothelioma is unique in the way it grows. Most tumors form as a singular mass. Mesothelioma tumors more commonly develop as numerous small nodules on the lining of the lungs or abdomen. As the tumors grow, they eventually come together in a sheath-like tumor, which is often compared to a rind that grows around fruit. As the cancer progresses, the tumor grows around vital organs and causes physical effects like pain or difficulty breathing.
Tumors that originate in the pleural lining of the lungs will first affect the lungs, whereas tumors that originate in the peritoneal lining will first affect the digestive system. Physical signs of mesothelioma usually arise in later stages of development. It is rare for stage I or II mesothelioma to cause noticeable symptoms.
Once the cancer has reached the final stage of development, when metastasis (distant spreading) occurs, new symptoms might develop. Late-stage mesothelioma patients may experience difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, facial nerve damage, low blood sugar and nerve pain in the arm.Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Treatment of mesothelioma can physically affect the body in significant ways depending on the therapies used. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy all cause physical side effects. Most of these mesothelioma treatment side effects are eased with medication, diet or lifestyle choices.
Pain at incision site
Swelling, drainage or infection at incision site
Bleeding at incision site
Pain in area of surgery
Nausea & vomiting
Diarrhea & constipation
Reduced blood counts
Skin changes & irritation
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