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Do Mesothelioma Symptoms Differ by Age?

Do mesothelioma symptoms differ by age

Each year, there are around 3,000 new individuals who receive mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. This small number of newly diagnosed patients makes this aggressive form of cancer that can affect the lining around the heart, abdomen, lungs, and testicles fairly rare.

As you’re likely aware, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, this cancer is unique in that there’s a lot of time that passes between when someone is exposed to carcinogenic asbestos fibers, and they show signs of this cancer. By the time patients show symptoms, their cancer has progressed too far to successfully treat it.

Since different people may be exposed to toxic asbestos fibers at different stages in their lives, thus resulting in them experiencing the onset of symptoms at distinct ages, it leads many patients and their loved ones to wonder, “Do mesothelioma symptoms differ by age?”

How This Cancer Affects Differently Aged Patients

In general, there’s no evidence to suggest that mesothelioma causes any different symptoms in one individual compared to the next — regardless of age. Instead, it’s commonplace for patients to remain asymptomatic after initial exposure to asbestos fibers for years. By the time they do show symptoms, the manifestations of the disease are fairly similar, including the following:

  • Labored breathing
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain

So, whether a child comes into asbestos fibers at age two, for example, through secondary exposure, say by their dad bringing the toxin home from work on their clothing or a 40-year adult who worked in a manufacturing plant was exposed to it in their role, both individuals have the potential of developing the same symptoms some 20 years or more later.

Researchers Initially Believed Children With Mesothelioma Displayed Different Symptoms

Even though we would argue that evidence shows that mesothelioma symptoms don’t differ depending on a patient’s age, recent research has focused on confirming that’s the case.

Research published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), such as this 2015 Oncotarget journal article and 2016 Respiratory Medicine Case Reports study, shed light on symptoms that child patients present with.

The 2015 study suggests that young patients are often asymptomatic, only having the extent of their condition identified during imaging studies. The 2016 study described above outlines how a 17-year-old male patient presented with a cough, a headache, moderate shortness of breath, a fever, and right-side chest pain but no weight loss. Most, if not all, of these symptoms align with presenting concerns a patient of almost any other age would have.

In their conclusions, the authors of both studies suggested that further investigation into the symptoms of childhood-onset mesothelioma was necessary to gain an enhanced perspective about whether presenting concerns differed between age groups because, as of yet, there’s no evidence to suggest that’s the case.

Why Do Some Assume Mesothelioma Symptoms Affect Certain Aged People Differently?

One reason people tend to think that people of different ages have different presenting concerns is that the older a patient is, the higher the likelihood that they may have been diagnosed with other medical conditions. Thus, they may not only present with typical symptoms of mesothelioma but also other signs of disease associated with the other conditions they have.

So, for example, one might get the impression older people, for example, also experience certain cardiovascular problems when they have mesothelioma when, in reality, those symptoms are merely indicative of the fact that their population tends to have a higher incidence rate of heart disease than others. And, as an aside, as you might imagine, this fact a patient may have a comorbidity (an additional diagnosis), such as a pre-existing condition, may make it challenging for doctors to hone in on their mesothelioma diagnosis — especially if symptoms are similar.

Another factor that often leads some to believe mesothelioma causes distinct symptoms in differently aged patients has to do with their perception of aging.

For example, an aging individual may think that the increasingly labored breathing or fatigue that they experience when they first become noticeably symptomatic are “side effects” of aging. Thus, an older person may not raise these concerns with their doctor, whereas a younger patient experiencing the same might. As you can likely surmise, these perceptions about aging may impact whether or not a patient receives a timely diagnosis and how successful their treatment for mesothelioma is.

Responsiveness to Treatment for Cancer Impacts Perceptions Regarding Symptoms

One other factor that tends to lead some to conclude that mesothelioma doesn’t impact all ages of individuals similarly has to do with treatment options doctors make available to individuals at different stages in their lives or differences in patients’ responsiveness to the ones they receive or undergo.

Surgery and some treatment options may not be advisable for patients of certain ages, with certain comorbidities, or given the progression of their disease (at the stage it’s diagnosed). Additionally, individuals who are younger or otherwise at peak health may appear to “bounce back” much more quickly than others. This can give the impression that someone’s condition is “behaving” differently when that’s not necessarily the case.

Getting Help If You’ve Received a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

If doctors have recently diagnosed you with mesothelioma and, in learning about treatment options that can make you more comfortable and give you a better quality of life, you’re concerned about cost, contact us at Frost Law Firm, PC.

We have long been working with mesothelioma patients nationwide to file claims to recover financial compensation and receive the best possible medical care for their condition. Our mesothelioma lawyers want to help you do the same. Meeting with our attorneys is completely free, so call or write us now.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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