Most of the symptoms of mesothelioma are interconnected, though one of the most distressing symptoms is Hemoptysis (Wiki link)or coughing up blood. Hemoptysis can be prevented, if detected earlier and monitored carefully. Exposure to asbestos has been associated with a malignancy known as mesothelioma, which is a cancer occurring in lining of lungs, abdomen and heart. Asbestos containing products are used widely as a fire retardant and insulation material. Persistent use of asbestos will mean that more individuals will be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Though the incubation period for cancer development is as long as forty years but due to widespread use of the product, mesothelioma diagnoses should rise steadily over the next several years. For more information on diagnosis of mesothelioma, check this page.
Hemoptysis as a symptom of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma affects different parts of body pleural mesothelioma (lungs), pericardial mesothelioma (heart) and peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen). Click here to read about types of mesothelioma. Hemoptysis is coughing up blood from the respiratory tract. Hemoptysis presents, mainly, with pleural mesothelioma.
Hemoptysis in pleural Mesothelioma
Once a person is exposed to asbestos, particles become attached to lungs and remain there for decades. In pleural mesothelioma, particles initiate a cellular chain-reaction, causing the pleura or the lining of the lungs to become cancerous. If left untreated or undetected malignant mesothelioma may develop. Detection at early stages can prevent life threatening condition. Moreover, understanding the structure of lungs can help determine cause of Hemoptysis. Air travels from trachea/ windpipe into lungs through bronchi where it disseminates into smaller bronchioles. Bronchioles end at alveoli or tiny air sacs, surrounded by blood vessels. At the alveoli gaseous exchange occurs. Oxygen is absorbed into the blood and waste or carbon dioxide is exhaled.
Hemoptysis can originate in any of the three organs; trachea, bronchi or lungs. Examination of the coughed up blood will determine the source. Usually, bright red blood is from the respiratory tract, whereas dark red blood is from the gastrointestinal tract.
Sometimes various kinds of internal bleeding may occur which is mistaken for Hemoptysis. Usually blood vessels are very fragile and rupture which mimic Hemoptysis.
Major hemoptysis, also referred to as massive hemoptysis can be distinguished by the amount of blood coughed up over a period of twenty four hour. This condition may become life threatening if more than six hundred milliliters of blood is coughed up because it may lead to asphyxiation (lack of oxygen). During this condition, Lungs may become infested with blood because large volume is coughed up thereby interrupting breathing. Massive Hemoptysis is a medical emergency as the mortality rate of patients with massive Hemoptysis can be as high as 75%.
Minor Hemoptysis caused by coughing and shortness of breath can indicate a more severe health issue. As early symptoms of mesothelioma cancer include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, coughing – hemoptysis may begin, slowly. A little blood in expectorated mucus should not be ignored, especially if it becomes more persistent.
Minor hemoptysis can progress to major hemoptysis which can indicate rapid transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells over the period of latency.More