If you recently experienced symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and others, you might wonder, “How do you test for mesothelioma?” While medical professionals typically use several tests to diagnose the condition, a biopsy is the most reliable way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
According to the American Cancer Society, eight out of ten mesothelioma cases arise due to asbestos exposure. Therefore, if you developed the condition, you could qualify for compensation from a previous employer or another responsible party. However, receiving damages for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can be an uphill struggle.
We understand that trying to get what you deserve while fighting mesothelioma can feel overwhelming. Morgan & Morgan can be here for you. Our mesothelioma attorneys could help you pursue the compensation you need to receive innovative medical treatments and make your life as comfortable as possible. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the thin layer of tissue covering most of our internal organs. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly disease that can affect the lining of the lungs, heart, and stomach. Most mesotheliomas develop after long-term asbestos exposure. Once asbestos fibers enter the body due to inhalation or ingestion, they can cause inflammation leading to mesothelioma and other diseases. Mesothelioma affecting the lungs, also called pleural mesothelioma, is the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease.
Common Mesothelioma Symptoms
Symptoms of mesothelioma can include, among others:
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal, chest, or rib pain
- Night sweats
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
Tests Available for Detecting Mesothelioma
Suspecting that you suffer from mesothelioma can be frightening and stressful. However, the sooner you discuss your symptoms with a doctor, the sooner you can receive a clean bill of health or start life-saving treatment if mesothelioma is confirmed. How you test for mesothelioma can involve several steps, including but not limited to:
Your doctor will most likely begin by asking about your symptoms and assessing your medical history. Make sure to tell your medical provider whether you were exposed to asbestos, even if it happened decades ago. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to try and rule out any other conditions. Mesothelioma is a rare condition, and symptoms of the disease can point to many other illnesses.
Some blood tests can detect signs of mesothelioma. However, blood tests alone can usually not confirm or discount a mesothelioma diagnosis alone and should be used together with other testing methods.
Imaging tests can be useful for locating and sizing mesothelioma tumors and can help doctors determine the extent and stage of cancer. Imaging tests used for mesothelioma diagnosis include:
Doctors can use X-rays results to identify some signs of mesothelioma, such as tumors or fluid buildup in the affected areas.
CT or CAT scans are performed with a much larger machine and are more precise and better defined than x-rays. The detailed nature of a CT scan shows smaller tumors and helps doctors with staging mesothelioma and determine how far advanced the disease is.
MRIs use electromagnetic technology to generate detailed images that can help investigate brain tissue, bone, and nerve tissue. MRIs can show which tissues are affected by mesothelioma and how far cancer has spread or metastasized.
A biopsy is a procedure used by doctors to remove some tissue for laboratory analysis and examination. There can be various types of biopsies for diagnosing mesothelioma. However, the most common is thoracoscopy, performed with an endoscope while the patient is under a general anesthetic. During a thoracoscopy, the doctor removes small tissue samples from the area between the lungs and the chest wall. The samples are then forwarded to a laboratory to examine them for cancer cells.
Mesothelioma is a rare illness and can take decades to develop. Unfortunately, diagnosing the condition in its early stages can be challenging. Most cases are discovered when at an advanced stage. Symptoms of mesothelioma also often mirror those of common illnesses, potentially further delaying a diagnosis. In most cases, specialists will use a variety of tests to diagnose mesothelioma accurately. Although only a biopsy, such as a pleural aspiration or thoracoscopy, can confirm a suspected mesothelioma diagnosis beyond doubt.
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is currently incurable. However, if detected early, a patient could have several treatment options prolonging their life expectancy and keeping the disease at bay. Treatments for mesothelioma can include:
Surgeons may be able to remove some mesothelioma tumors with an operation. In most instances, surgery alone does not remove all cancer and is used to limit disease progression.
Chemotherapy is used in many cancer treatment plans and works by killing cancer cells. Chemotherapy can help slow the growth and spread of mesothelioma.
Radiation can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors and is typically used for relieving pain and extending survival for people with mesothelioma.
Commonly, doctors will try to use a combination of therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, depending on a patient’s circumstances. Innovative treatments such as immunotherapy can also help keep the condition in check. Since mesothelioma is generally incurable, treatments tend to focus on improving patients’ quality of life and prolonging their life expectancy.
Mesothelioma Sufferers Could Pursue Compensation
If you are suffering from mesothelioma, you will most likely need costly ongoing treatment for the rest of your life. While no amount of compensation can restore your health, a settlement can help deal with the steep medical costs you could face. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, receiving early treatment, and having access to clinical trials and innovative new treatments, could increase your life expectancy.
The compensation you could receive from a mesothelioma lawsuit can include:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Medical devices
- Medical transportation costs
- Household assistance
- Lost wages and loss of future wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment