Symptoms and Signs of Mesothelioma

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an uncommon type of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells, which are a layer of specialized cells that line the body cavities and internal organs. Mesothelioma of the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) is the most common form of all mesotheliomas. The most common cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos likely physically irritates the cells, which is believed to cause cancer.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may not occur until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. The onset of symptoms is gradual, and a person can experience symptoms for four to six months before a diagnosis is made. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include difficulty breathing (the most common complaint), chest discomfort, chest pain, cough, easy fatigability, fever, and weight loss.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.