Mesothelioma: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

People with mesothelioma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with mesothelioma do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different 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 a thickening of the lining around the lung that limits how much 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

  • Fever

  • Night sweats

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, 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 figure 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 be called palliative care or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is DiagnosisIt explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.