Changes in Bowel Habits and Mesothelioma: Understanding the Symptoms


Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and mining. While mesothelioma can take decades to develop, the symptoms can be debilitating, and in some cases, fatal.

One of the lesser-known symptoms of mesothelioma is changes in bowel habits. While this symptom may seem unrelated to cancer of the lungs or abdomen, it can be an early indicator that someone has developed mesothelioma. In this article, we will explore the connection between bowel habits and mesothelioma, including how changes in bowel movements can be a warning sign of the disease.

The Digestive System and Mesothelioma

The digestive system includes the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and anus. When mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen, also known as peritoneal mesothelioma, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system. The tumor can put pressure on the organs and cause inflammation in the lining of the abdomen.

As a result, someone with peritoneal mesothelioma may experience changes in bowel habits. They may notice that they have more frequent bowel movements, or they may have diarrhea or constipation. They may also feel bloated or nauseous, and they may experience abdominal pain.

  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating or nausea
  • Abdominal pain

However, these symptoms are not exclusive to mesothelioma. They can also be caused by other conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or colon cancer. Therefore, it is important to speak to a doctor if you experience changes in bowel habits, especially if they persist or worsen over time.

The Link Between Changes in Bowel Habits and Mesothelioma

Doctors and researchers have identified a link between changes in bowel habits and the development of mesothelioma. According to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, individuals with mesothelioma were more likely to experience changes in bowel habits than individuals without mesothelioma.

The study also found that changes in bowel habits were more common in individuals with peritoneal mesothelioma than those with pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. This is because peritoneal mesothelioma directly affects the abdominal organs, including the intestines.

While the mechanism behind the link between changes in bowel habits and mesothelioma is not yet fully understood, researchers believe that it may be related to the location of the tumor in the abdomen. The tumor can put pressure on the intestines, causing changes in bowel movements. It may also release chemicals that affect the digestive system.

The Importance of Early Detection

Early detection is key to improving the prognosis of mesothelioma. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is often diagnosed at a late stage, when the cancer has already spread. This makes it harder to treat and reduces the chances of survival.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma, including changes in bowel habits, and to seek medical attention if they persist or worsen. A doctor can conduct tests, such as imaging scans and biopsies, to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma.


Changes in bowel habits may seem like a small symptom, but they can be a warning sign of mesothelioma. This is especially true if other symptoms, such as abdominal pain and nausea, are present as well. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to your body and seek medical attention if you experience any changes in bowel habits. Early detection can improve the chances of successful treatment and increase the chances of survival.