Mesothelioma or Asbestos Question?

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

The sooner a case of mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the patient’s chances of long-term survival will be. Tragically, most cases are not diagnosed until the disease has already begun to progress. This is usually blamed on the fact that the early symptoms of mesothelioma are often non-specific; in other words, there are many different illnesses that can cause them. In addition, mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period, meaning that some patients go undiagnosed for many decades after their initial exposure to asbestos.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms of mesothelioma, such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain, you should schedule a checkup with your physician. If you have been exposed to asbestos at any time in the past, it is important to mention this to your doctor. Because mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, knowing your history can help your doctor reach the correct diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Tests

If your doctor suspects that you may have mesothelioma, there are many different tests he or she may choose to perform. The specifics of your tests will depend on whether the suspected mesothelioma is affecting the lining of your lungs, heart, or abdomen. They may also vary depending on other factors, like your healthcare needs and your doctor’s professional opinions.

Some common mesothelioma tests include:

  • X-rays. The doctor may decide to x-ray your chest and abdomen to look for a buildup of fluids called an effusion. If this buildup is in the lungs, it is known as a pleural effusion. Pleural effusions can have many causes; unfortunately, mesothelioma is one of them.
  • Thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy. These are medical procedures in which an incision is made, through which a doctor places a thin device with a light and a lens. It is called a thoracoscopy if the chest is being examined, and a peritoneoscopy if the abdomen is being examined. While you are anesthetized, your doctor will look for any signs of potential illness.
  • CT scan. If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, there is a good chance that you will need to undergo a CT scan. This is a series of x-rays that build a three-dimensional picture of a certain area of the body. This picture can help doctors look for tumors or other health problems.
  • Biopsy. If your doctor finds any unusual tissue while conducting tests, a small piece of it will be removed for closer examination. This kind of test is called a biopsy. By examining the tissue, your doctor should be able to determine whether it is cancerous.

Some of these tests can be uncomfortable, but your healthcare providers will take steps to minimize this problem. If you are in pain following a medical test, ask your doctor about painkillers or other solutions. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is vital that you seek out the mesothelioma resources available to you and learn as much about the condition as possible.

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