One of the most trying times for a mesothelioma patient is going through the diagnosis process. Obtaining a mesothelioma diagnosis can literally take several months and dozens of tests. Problems with diagnosing the disease are often responsible for delaying treatment and decreasing the lifespan of the patient.
Several obstacles exist in obtaining an accurate and early mesothelioma diagnosis, even though it is critical in receiving the most effective treatment. The first obstacle is that mesothelioma is very rarely diagnosed before symptoms appear. The tumors are usually so small that they can go unrecognized during a standard physical examination.
Even after symptoms begin, a diagnosis of mesothelioma may not come quickly. This is because the symptoms are very similar to those of other minor diseases that require little to no treatment. Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed by primary physicians who do not go to the lengths of administering all possible diagnostic procedures. To complicate matters, symptoms are often not present until the cancer is in stage III or stage IV.
One of the best ways to overcome these problems is for the patient to recognize any past exposure to asbestos. If you know you have been exposed to any amount of asbestos for any length of time, it is important to provide this information to your primary care physician. When this fact is known and communicated to your doctor, the proper diagnostic tests can be administered, and the frequency of regular checkups can be increased.
Most instances of mesothelioma diagnosis begin with the patient going to their primary care physician to inquire about symptoms being experienced, such as chest pain, abdominal pain, coughing or difficulty breathing. At this point in the diagnosis, the doctor should ask for a complete medical history and work history. If the doctor does not ask, it will be beneficial to volunteer the information.
After your medical and work history is discussed, a physical examination is performed. This can be accompanied by a blood test or saliva test, but these are often not enough to discover cancerous cells in the mesothelium. These tests must be accompanied by diagnostic imaging.
The first type of diagnostic imaging that will be performed is an X-ray of the chest and/or abdomen. While X-rays are the least accurate type of imaging, they are often enough to discover an abnormal presence that warrants the use of more advanced imaging procedures, such as a CT scan and MRI.
If imaging suggests that cancerous tissue may be present, you will probably be referred to a cancer or mesothelioma specialist. A specialist has several more diagnostic tools at their disposal. The final diagnosis of mesothelioma often comes after a biopsy is performed. A biopsy is the examination of tissue extracted from the body through a needle or through surgery.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure and want more information about mesothelioma diagnosis, please contact us. We will make every effort to respond at your earliest convenience.