Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and chest pain. People who have possible mesothelioma symptoms and were exposed to asbestos, the only known cause of this cancer, should seek medical care. Learn about common mesothelioma symptoms below and get help managing them.

Get Compensation

What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma causes symptoms that can affect breathing, appetite, and weight.

Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood in mucus or fecal matter
  • Chest pain or abdominal pain
  • Chills and/or fever
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Night sweats
  • Pain in the shoulder, ribs, or upper back
  • Unexplained weight loss

Mesothelioma cancer symptoms typically appear 10-50 years after exposure to asbestos fibers. The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma are often mild at first and worsen as the cancer spreads.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any symptoms or signs of mesothelioma, don’t wait: Seek medical help.

“An unresolved cough, fever, chills, weight loss, or shortness of breath should warrant someone to seek further testing and treatment by their physician.”

— Amy Fair, registered nurse and mesothelioma patient advocate

Lung Cancer Group can help you or a loved one find doctors who can diagnose and treat mesothelioma symptoms.

Speak to a mesothelioma nurse now to find the medical care you need for your symptoms.

Speak With a Mesothelioma Nurse
  • Find Top Doctors and Treatments
  • Connect You With Clinical Trials
  • Answer Medical Questions
Talk with Amy

Amy Fair
20+ Years Helping
Mesothelioma Patients

Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma by Type

All types of mesothelioma have unique symptoms. View common symptoms of each type of this cancer below.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Malignant pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura (lung lining). Patients with pleural mesothelioma often have symptoms that impact the chest and lungs.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Chest, rib, shoulder, or upper back pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the lung lining)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Pleural effusion is the most common symptom. A 2022 report from the medical journal Pathology International found that pleural effusion is the first symptom in more than 8 out of 10 pleural mesothelioma cases.

“Fluid was found in my lungs, and the doctor thought I should probably have a biopsy of the lung fluid because you don’t usually have that much fluid in your lungs.”

— Bonnie, pleural mesothelioma survivor

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma start off mild and worsen as the cancer spreads through the chest wall and into other parts of the body.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the peritoneum (abdominal lining). As peritoneal mesothelioma invades the abdominal cavity, it can cause symptoms related to digestion and appetite.

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling (distention)
  • Ascites (buildup of abdominal fluid)
  • Changes to bowel movements (diarrhea/constipation)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Vomiting up blood

“With all the peritoneal mesothelioma patients I know, all of us had different symptoms. Some had fluid buildup. Mine, I had big weight loss in just a matter of a few months, and I couldn’t eat.”

— Mary Jane, peritoneal mesothelioma survivor

Translational Lung Cancer Research notes that the most common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are abdominal pain and ascites, which develop in 30-50% of patients.

Patients may also develop a mass within their abdomen or a hernia along their abdominal wall.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the pericardium (the lining of the heart). Symptoms affect the heart and chest.

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular, rapid heartbeat)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma stem from the cancer’s growth. For example, patients may develop atrial fibrillation if pericardial mesothelioma tumors constrict the heart lining.

Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms

Malignant testicular mesothelioma develops in the lining of the testicles. Common symptoms include swelling, pain, and fluid buildup around the testicle lining.

Mayo Clinic notes that this cancer may first be detected as a mass on the testicle or swelling of the testicle.

Speak to a nurse now if you have possible symptoms of any type of mesothelioma. We may be able to help you quickly access top treatments for your symptoms.

Speak With a Mesothelioma Nurse
  • Find Top Doctors and Treatments
  • Connect You With Clinical Trials
  • Answer Medical Questions
Talk with Amy

Amy Fair
20+ Years Helping
Mesothelioma Patients

Symptoms of Mesothelioma By Stage: Early and Late Signs

There are four stages of pleural mesothelioma. All other types are informally given a “localized” or “advanced” stage by doctors. The higher the stage, the worse the symptoms.

Learn about symptoms by mesothelioma stage below.

Mesothelioma Symptoms in Early Stages

Man coughingStage 1 and stage 2 mesothelioma symptoms are often mild at first and can be mistaken for more common health problems like the flu. The cancer is contained to just the lung lining.

Early symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen or chest
  • Shortness of breath

Some mesothelioma patients may have little or no symptoms in the early stages.

Late-Stage Mesothelioma Symptoms

When patients have stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma, their existing symptoms will be worse, and new ones may also appear. This is because the cancer has spread past the lung lining and into other parts of the body.

Late-stage mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Remember: If you have any symptoms of mesothelioma, it’s crucial to get them checked out by an oncologist (cancer doctor). Catching symptoms before the cancer spreads is key to living longer.

Call (877) 446-5767 to speak with our on-staff registered nurses, who can recommend next steps if you have any possible mesothelioma symptoms.

Diagnosing Symptoms of Mesothelioma

To diagnose mesothelioma symptoms, doctors use different tests to look for possible signs of the cancer.

“If you feel like you’re not getting better [and if] this is something new for you, it’s certainly best to encourage your doctor to proceed with more testing.”

— Amy Fair, registered nurse and mesothelioma patient advocate

First, Mayo Clinic recommends telling doctors about your asbestos exposure history if you have possible symptoms since this is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

From there, doctors can recommend tests to help make a diagnosis, like:

  • Tech working on blood testsBlood tests: These allow doctors to see if mesothelioma biomarkers (proteins or other substances related to the cancer) are present.
  • Imaging scans: Chest X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans allow doctors to look within your body for possible tumors or other abnormalities.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the only way to confirm if you have mesothelioma. Doctors extract fluid or tissue and review it under a microscope.

Once your mesothelioma diagnosis is confirmed, doctors can then recommend a plan to treat your mesothelioma symptoms and help you live longer.

Misdiagnosis of Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma is often hard to diagnose as the symptoms are shared with more common and often less serious health problems.

Mesothelioma symptoms can be misdiagnosed as:

  • Hernia (in cases of testicular mesothelioma)
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung infections
  • Ovarian cancer (in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma)
  • Pneumonia
Did You Know?

More than 14% of mesothelioma patients get misdiagnosed, according to an American Cancer Society Journals report.

If you believe you have experienced a mesothelioma misdiagnosis, seek a second opinion. This allows another doctor to review your diagnosis results and confirm or disagree with them.

You can also speak to our mesothelioma nurses for help if you’re concerned that your symptoms weren’t correctly diagnosed.

Get Help for Asbestos Lung Cancer
  • Access Financial Aid and Justice
  • Learn About Your Options
  • Contact Us for Free
Free Case ReviewAn older man and his wife hold each other.

Mesothelioma Symptoms and Treatment Options

Doctors use many types of mesothelioma treatments to ease symptoms.

If you have early-stage mesothelioma, your medical team can use treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation to destroy cancer tumors to help you live longer and ease symptoms.

Mesothelioma doctors can also recommend palliative care to reduce mesothelioma symptoms and side effects of treatments. Palliative treatments may be the main ones used if you have late-stage cancer.

Palliative cancer treatments include:

A doctor uses a beaker to drop blue liquid into a vial

  • Catheters or shunts: Doctors can place these in your body to drain pleural effusions or ascites at home instead of going to the hospital.
  • Medications: Doctors may prescribe pain-relieving medications to ease mesothelioma symptoms and treatment side effects.
  • Pleurodesis: In cases of pleural mesothelioma, doctors inject medical talc into the lung lining to seal it and prevent pleural effusions from building up.
  • Thoracentesis: A thin needle is inserted into the lung lining to drain pleural effusions. A similar procedure called paracentesis can drain ascites in peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

Clinical trials are also studying newer treatments to improve or manage mesothelioma symptoms. For example, an app that tracks symptoms of mesothelioma is currently being investigated, according to the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Our team can connect you with doctors and treatments to ease your mesothelioma symptoms. Call (877) 446-5767 to find out if you qualify.

Get Help for Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma

If you or a loved one has possible mesothelioma symptoms, don’t wait: See a doctor as soon as possible and tell them if you may have been exposed to asbestos.

An early diagnosis is crucial as doctors have a better chance of removing all visible signs of the cancer and, in turn, relieving your symptoms.

Call (877) 446-5767 to speak with our registered nurses now. Our team can answer your questions and help you get the care you need for your symptoms.

Mesothelioma Cancer Symptoms FAQs

What are the early warning signs of mesothelioma?

Some early signs of mesothelioma include:

  • A cough that doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Early mesothelioma symptoms are sometimes mistaken for less serious health problems. However, mesothelioma symptoms won’t clear up on their own.

If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and now has possible symptoms of mesothelioma, seek out medical care as soon as you can.

Patients with advanced or late-stage mesothelioma often report symptoms like coughing up blood, a fever, and night sweats.

Many earlier mesothelioma symptoms like chest or abdominal pain might have worsened as well due to the spread of the cancer.

Speak with a mesothelioma nurse now to get help if you have end-stage mesothelioma symptoms.

Pleural mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma have many of the same symptoms of lung cancer, like a persistent cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

That said, lung cancer and mesothelioma are two separate types of cancer, and each requires a different treatment approach.

Doctors need to properly distinguish between mesothelioma and lung cancer symptoms to correctly diagnose and treat their patients.

Treatments are the best way to improve mesothelioma symptoms. Aggressive treatments like surgery and chemotherapy can destroy as much of the cancer as possible so patients can live longer and with fewer symptoms.

Doctors can also administer palliative (pain-relieving) care, which focuses on easing mesothelioma symptoms and the side effects of other treatments.

Lung Cancer Group was established by a team of caring advocates so those with lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases can get the help they deserve. Our site provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about lung cancer, its link to asbestos, and financial compensation available to patients. Contact us to learn more and get assistance.

  1. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Surgery for malignant mesothelioma. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2020, September). Mesothelioma: Symptoms and Signs. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  3. Badiyan, S., Molitoris, J., Zhu, M., Glass, E., Diwanji, T., & Simone, C. (2018, April). Proton beam therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  4. Broeckx, G., & Pauwels, P. (2018, October). Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: A Review. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  5. Cancer Council NSW. (2020, May 27). Lack of appetite and weight loss. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  6. Carbone, M., Adusumilli, P., Alexander, H. R., Baas, P., & Et al. (2019, July 8). Mesothelioma: Scientific clues for prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  7. Journal of Medical Internet Research. (2022, November 12). Advanced Symptom Management System for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (ASyMSmeso): Mixed methods study. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  8. Mayo Clinic. (2022, October 11). Mesothelioma. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  9. MD Anderson Cancer Center. (2021, September 15). 6 things to know about peritoneal mesothelioma. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  10. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (n.d.). Symptoms of peritoneal & pleural mesothelioma cancers. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  11. Nabeshima, K., Hamasaki, M., Kinoshita, Y., & Et al. (2022, May 21). Update of pathological diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma using genomic-based morphological techniques, for both histological and cytological investigations. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  12. National Organization for Rare Disorders. (2020, October 26). Mesothelioma. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
  13. Vimercati, L., Cavone, D., Delfino, M., De Maria, L., Caputi, A., Ferri, G., & Serio, G. (2019, August 30). Asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis: A systematic review and the experience of the Apulia (southern Italy) Mesothelioma Register – Environmental Health. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from
Free Case Review

Get Financial Compensation for Lung Cancer

  • Afford medical expenses and any other bills
  • Find peace of mind for you and your family
  • Get justice from the companies that harmed you

Call (877) 446-5767 or fill out the form to connect with our team and pursue financial compensation after a lung cancer diagnosis.

Start a Free Case Review

Secure Submission

Call us at (877) 446-5767 Talk to us via Live Chat