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What are the early symptoms of mesothelioma?

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Mesothelioma is an asbestos related disease which can take many years to develop following the initial exposure to asbestos. The latency period for developing symptoms following exposure is typically between 20 and 50 years explains Deborah Foundling, Industrial Disease specialist in our Personal Injury team.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that occurs following exposure to asbestos.  There are four different types of mesothelioma; pleural (lung), peritoneal (stomach), pericardial (heart) and testicular.  Pleural mesothelioma accounts for between 90% to 95% of mesothelioma diagnoses in the UK. The asbestos fibres attach themselves to the lining of the lungs causing thickening of the airways and breathing difficulties.

“This particular kind of cancer is extremely hard to detect as symptoms can take decades to show themselves,” explains Deborah.  “By the time symptoms do appear, the cancer is already in an advanced stage and has started to spread meaning there is very little that can be done other than treating the symptoms.”

Symptoms of mesothelioma

Depending on the type of mesothelioma, the most common symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen, particularly when breathing
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough or wheezing
  • Respiratory complaints
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

“Should you display any of these symptoms and you have been exposed to asbestos in the past, we would recommend that you see your doctor immediately,” continues Deborah.  “These symptoms could suggest a multitude of illnesses but if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past then it is  important that you explain this to your doctor so they can run the appropriate tests which may include  X-rays, blood tests or a biopsy.”

What treatments are available for mesothelioma?

Sadly, there is currently no cure for the disease, even though treatment can help control the symptoms. Various treatments can be used to address the tumour and may include chemotherapy, pleural drain, surgery and immunotherapy. These treatments will normally only extend the life of a patient or make their symptoms more manageable; they will rarely cure the cancer. 

Deborah concludes, “Despite asbestos becoming an illegal substance in 1999, over 2,600 people are still diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK.  Having the right support around you at this time will be invaluable for you and your loved ones, and we can help you find the right support.  We can help you make a claim for compensation which can assist you and your family with any financial burdens as well as putting you in touch with the right professionals to provide practical support following a diagnosis.  We know that a diagnosis of mesothelioma will be devastating and we will work with you with respect, compassion and understanding when making plans for your and your family’s future.”

To discuss how you can make a claim, or for any advice regarding your mesothelioma diagnosis, you can contact Deborah or the Personal Injury team on 0800 91 92 30 or email   Alternatively, you may find the following resources useful:


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article