Mesothelioma: Symptoms and Signs

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with mesothelioma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with mesothelioma do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. Often, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until years or even decades after asbestos exposure.

If mesothelioma is in the chest area, called pleural mesothelioma, the symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath, caused by thickening of the lining around the lung reducing how well the lungs can expand
  • Build-up of fluid in the chest, called a pleural effusion
  • Chest pain

If mesothelioma is in the abdominal area, called peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling from a buildup of fluid, called ascites
  • Bowel obstruction

General symptoms of mesothelioma may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Anemia, which is a low level of red blood cells
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.