Mesothelioma Tests And Diagnosis

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Mesothelioma is a rare, stubborn form of lung cancer that is typically diagnosed in people who have been exposed to asbestos. However, the disease develops slowly and is usually not diagnosed until 20, 30 or even 50 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma are hard to distinguish from more common illnesses, as well, so it is important to be tested often if you know you were heavily exposed to asbestos in the past. Certain tests for mesothelioma are necessary for proper diagnosis of the disease.

Diagnosis is especially hard at the onset of the disease, because the symptoms begin slowly and cannot be seen externally, as they may be in other forms of cancer. For example, leukemia patients generally exhibit unusual bruising, which may lead to a diagnosis relatively early. Like most cancers, treatment for mesothelioma is most effective when the cancer is caught early, but that rarely happens. Instead, most cases are not diagnosed, or properly diagnosed, until they have reached one of the most advanced stages of the disease. At this time, it's usually not feasible to operate, and even treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may carry with them side effects that are not worth the benefits they provide.

Another matter which complicates a mesothelioma diagnosis is the fact that its symptoms are non-specific, and often resemble the symptoms of other, less serious illnesses. Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent or bloody cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and chest pain. These symptoms may be mistaken for the signs of bronchitis, a cold or the flu, or even associated with aging, so many people don't consider visiting a doctor when these symptoms arise.

One way to diagnose mesothelioma is to make regular visits to your doctor and submit yourself to tests to make sure it is not developing; if it has started to develop, it will be caught early on and be treated as quick as possible to stop it from spreading. If you have been exposed to asbestos through an occupation such as construction, railroads, manufacturing, or oil refinement, you should be seeing your doctor on a regular basis. Mesothelioma can surface up to 50 years after the initial exposure, but it is crucial that you continue to visit your doctor even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. If the disease progresses too far, it can be fatal. In fact, it is one of the most fatal forms of cancer. Early detection is important for future treatments as well.

Your doctor will perform certain tests to detect mesothelioma. These tests may include:
Bloodwork to determine the presence of cancer cells
Complete physical exam to determine external signs you may have missed
Chest X-ray to determine if there is a tumor or inflammation in the lungs, fluid in the chest cavity, or thickening of the pleural tissues
An MRI or CT scan to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body
A biopsy of the suspected affected tissues
A Bronchoscopy to view the inside of the lungs more clearly
Exploratory surgery using a laparascopic camera to better see internally

Less common forms of mesothelioma that occur in the abdominal cavity (peritoneal) resemble other kinds of cancer, specifically ovarian cancer. Your doctor may need to perform intense chemical tests on the biopsied tissues and cells from that area to determine if it is in fact cancerous.

If you have been diagnosed with this or any other type of asbestos related illness, the next step you should consider is speaking with an attorney. If your mesothelioma has stemmed from long-term occupational exposure to asbestos, you may have grounds to sue your employer for negligence or personal injury. Mesothelioma and asbestos cases are argued in every state and are fast becoming the largest tort in the history of the United States legal system. A qualified lawyer should get you the compensation that you deserve. There are many law firms that deal only with cases that involve asbestos and have extensive experience in their field. Find one in your area today and help get a piece of your life back.


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