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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that principally causes tumors in the lungs, heart, or the abdomen. It may take up to 50 years to develop and has symptoms that often mimic those of minor conditions. The disease most often forms after prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the chest cavity and is the most common form of the disease. Patients may experience fluid buildup in the lungs, trouble breathing, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and anemia. Patients may also have fever, chest pain, excessive coughing, and difficulty swallowing.
Peritoneal mesothelioma forms in the abdominal cavity. The main symptoms include unexplained weight loss, abdominal swelling, night sweats, diarrhea, constipation, and severe pain in the affected area. Some patients experience breathing problems, sleeping difficulties, and extreme tiredness.
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the thin layer of skin surrounding the heart. The least common form of mesothelioma, it causes irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, fatigue, heart murmurs, palpitations, night sweats, and chronic chest pain.
Mesothelioma may also present in the testicles, but this is extremely rare. As a result, this type has no specific symptoms.
The condition is generally treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Typically, they aim to remove fluid buildup, destroy cancerous cells, and slow tumor growth. In surgery, a surgeon may remove part of all of the tumors and affected organ. Chemotherapy and radiation are often used in conjunction with this procedure.
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