Diagnosing Mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer that has been proven to be caused by exposure to asbestos. This harmful material was used in building and construction for more than a century, because it was durable, flexible, heat resistant and non-flammable. This made it ideal for using in buildings, from the insulation inside the structure to the paint on the outside. Although its safety had been questioned years prior, it continued to be used until the 1970s, when public outcry over its hazardous nature caused it to be phased out of new construction and abated from some existing buildings. Still, asbestos materials remain in more than 700,000 buildings around the United States.

Exposure to asbestos, particularly if it is prolonged or repeated, is what leads to mesothelioma. The asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, and become embedded in the lining and tissues of the lungs, abdominal cavity, and the heart. Theses fibers then get into the inner workings of the cells and cause them to function abnormally and overproduce, leading to inflammation of the tissues and eventually, a tumor. Mesothelioma is a slow-moving cancer; many patients are not diagnosed until 15, 20, 30 or even 50 years after initial exposure. If you know you were exposed to asbestos in the past and suspect you may have developed mesothelioma, see your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will run tests to determine if you do in fact have a malignant mesothelioma tumor.

Mesothelioma is especially hard to diagnose at the onset of the disease, the time when it is most important to catch it. Unfortunately, many doctors miss the signs of mesothelioma and brush them off as symptoms of some other illness. When you are visiting with your physician, make sure to tell him or her every symptom you have been experiencing that may be a sign of the cancer. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, sweating, weight loss, lower back pain, chest pain, and coughing up blood.

After reviewing your symptoms and taking a complete medical history, your doctor will run external and internal tests to further determine your diagnosis, such as

Bloodwork to determine the presence of cancer cells
A tissue biopsy
Taking a chest X-ray to determine the presence of a tumor or inflammation in the lungs and fluid in the chest cavity
An MRI or CT scan to determine if the cancer has spread
A Bronchoscopy procedure, which involves putting a small camera into the lungs, through the nose or mouth, to view the inside of the lungs and trachea
Laparascopic exploratory surgery

The only way to catch mesothelioma early on is to make routine visits to your doctor to have regular tests done. Those at highest risk include insulation, construction and manufacturing workers, as well as metalworkers, shipbuilders and Navy veterans. When the cancer is caught early on, treatments can be more effective and may completely eradicate the cancer altogether. Even though mesothelioma can surface up to 30 or more years after the initial exposure, it is crucial that you continue to visit your doctor even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed recently with mesothelioma or any other type of asbestos-related illness, then you should consult an experienced mesothelioma lawyer or attorney immediately. If you were exposed to asbestos in your line of work and were not provided information regarding asbestos, or given safety equipment to wear to protect you from it, you should not be held responsible for your medical bills. A qualified lawyer will be able to get you the compensation that you deserve and punish those responsible for your condition. There are many law firms that deal only with cases that involve asbestos, and will be there to defend you during this difficult time. Mesothelioma is a harsh cancer to deal with, and you should not be suffering on account of the negligence of someone else. Contact a mesothelioma lawyer today.


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