Mesothelioma: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/27/2019

Mesothelioma is an uncommon type of cancer that most frequently arises from the cells lining the cavities of the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum).

Pleural mesothelioma (in the chest cavity) is the most common form and results in symptoms such as cough, chest pain, rib pain, and shortness of breath. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common and affects the organs in the abdomen, leading to nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, and sometimes bowel obstruction. Other associated symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, night sweats, and weight loss.

Causes of mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, often many years before the actual development of the cancer. In most cases, exposures to asbestos occurred in the workplace before 1983.


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

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2019

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