Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Scientists have found a direct correlation between exposure to asbestos and the development of this rare cancer. Mesothelioma cells often start to grow in one organ, such as the abdomen and eventually spreads to other internal organs.
Mesothelioma is broken down into four main categories to track its growth:
- Testicular mesothelioma affects the male testes. It is characterized by a lump in the testicular area.
- Pericardial mesothelioma grows within the lining of the patient’s heart.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the abdominal cavity.
- Pleural mesothelioma targets the lining of the lungs and the chest cavity. This type of cancer makes abnormal tumors grow along the pleura, the name for the lining of the lungs.
Typically, doctors use the TNM system to categorize the disease. TNM is an acronym for tumor, lymph nodes, and metastasis. Like other cancer types, mesothelioma has four stages of development.
Although this cancer is most often described as fatal, it can be treated rather efficiently if it is diagnosed within the first or second stages. However, due to its growth, doctors often do not recognize the cells until the patient has reached one of the final stages. Therefore, it is very important that patients contact a physician when they start experiencing ailments such as shortness of breath.
Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea) Signs and Related Symptoms
Shortness of breath is a condition that is caused by the blood vessels within the heart or by the breathing passages of the lungs. Many times patients describe dyspnea as the feeling of suffocation or tightening in the chest.
When a patient experiences shortness of breath, they may need to be rushed to a medical professional to receive immediate care. Patients will recognize the onset of the condition when they start experiencing air hunger i.e. grasping for air.
Shortness of Breath as a Symptom of Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is a disease that targets the respiratory system. Patients that have this cancer will start to experience a plethora of breathing complications. These problems range from blood expulsion during coughing spells to pleural effusions (fluid buildup). Shortness of breath is recognized as one of the primary symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
All of these complications occur because plaque starts to build up along the pleura. The plaque obstructs breathing passages and makes oxygen delivery difficult for the respiratory system. Over time, the plaque progresses to tumors that grow in the lung and chest cavity. Sufferers of mesothelioma will notice that dyspnea spells happen more frequently and occur during regular activities.