What Seniors Should Know About MesotheliomaWhat Seniors Should Know About Mesothelioma

When it comes to recognizing potential health concerns, a little bit of knowledge can often go a long way. Seniors know to be on the lookout for symptoms of a number of common diseases and ailments that come with aging – from Alzheimer’s to heart disease to pancreatic cancer and more. One more illness you should be aware of, just in case, is mesothelioma.

The disease isn’t especially common, but it’s primarily diagnosed in seniors. Because it takes years for mesothelioma to show up, the average age of diagnosis is 69 and the risk of mesothelioma for people over 60 is ten times higher than for anyone under 40.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells that line a body’s internal organs. It’s caused by exposure to asbestos, although years generally pass between the exposure and the disease beginning to show up.

There are three different types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural mesothelioma – This is when the cancer develops in the lining of the lungs. This is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for about 80% of all new cases.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma – When the cancer develops in the lining of the abdomen.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma – When the cancer develops in the lining of the heart. This is the most rare form of mesothelioma, making up less than 1% of cases.

If you know you were exposed to asbestos at any point in life, then it’s worth being aware of and on the lookout for any of the three main types of mesothelioma.

The Warning Signs of Mesothelioma

If you think there’s a chance you could have or develop mesothelioma, there are different symptoms to be aware of for each type.

Symptoms for pleural mesothelioma:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the chest
  • Night sweats
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss

Symptoms for peritoneal mesothelioma:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Symptoms for pericardial mesothelioma:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Fever

Many of the symptoms of mesothelioma could point toward other types of illnesses or issues, so before you get too worked up over having a particular symptom, talk to your doctor. Let them know about your history with asbestos and your concern about your symptoms and let them take it from there in figuring out whether a diagnosis is in order.

Treatment Options for Mesothelioma

If you do have mesothelioma, you have options. While there’s no cure for the disease, there are a number of steps doctors can take to help reduce the affects of the disease on your life and help you live as long and as comfortably with the illness as possible.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend some combination of surgery to remove the mesothelioma tumor, chemotherapy to attack the cancer cells, and radiation therapy to help shrink the tumor.

With mesothelioma, much depends on catching the disease early. If you don’t get a diagnosis until the cancer is well advanced, your chances of living for longer than a year decrease significantly. The sooner you recognize you have it, the better those chances become.


That’s why it’s so important to have knowledge of what mesothelioma looks like and know to bring it up with your doctor as soon as you have concerns. If you can recognize it in the earliest stages and start treatment quickly, you’ll be much better off.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.


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