Early Detection of Mesothelioma in Asbestos-Exposed Individuals
Mesothelioma, caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers, is an incurable cancer that involves the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart, and the time between asbestos exposure and diagnosis can take decades. For many patients diagnosed 10-50 years after their initial exposure to asbestos, the disease is already in an advanced phase when they begin to suffer symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and fever. At this late stage of diagnosis, the average survival rate is less than a year; therefore doctors are now emphasizing the importance of early detection. In order to increase the effectiveness of treatment options, which ultimately leads to an increased survival time, early detection is critical. In fact, the American Cancer Society states “if you can’t prevent cancer, the next best thing you can do to protect your health is to detect it early.”
SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF MESOTHELIOMA
Mesothelioma may take decades to develop after exposure to asbestos, but it attacks quickly once taking hold. The microscopic asbestos fibers that are inhaled can lodge in the thin lining around the lungs and can lead to this rare but aggressive cancer. Most symptoms of mesothelioma involve the respiratory system and often are misdiagnosed because the initial symptoms are often confused with pneumonia, asthma, or other respiratory ailments. People who have been exposed to asbestos should know the possible signs and symptoms of mesothelioma. These include cough, fever, fatigue, trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, and pain in the side of the chest or lower back.
Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed within three to six months of the first visit to a doctor with complaints about breathing problems or chest and abdominal pain. At present diagnosing mesothelioma depends on the availability of a lung biopsy that contains enough tumor tissue. However appropriate biopsies are not always available, which can leave doctors unsure about the patient’s diagnosis, sometimes resulting in a delay to the start of treatment. For people with known exposure to asbestos, some doctors recommend blood tests to check overall health since cancer can affect how blood cells normally work or imaging tests such as chest or abdomen x-rays to look for any changes or CT scans to look for swelling or fluid. Changes in the lungs might be signs of mesothelioma or lung cancer.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation. Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC has over 40 years legal experience representing individuals suffering from mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.