Because of how rare mesothelioma is and how closely its symptoms can appear to be other conditions, it is possible for mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed. The 5-year relative survival rate for those suffering from mesothelioma is anywhere from 8% to 20%, depending on the extent of the illness. This means that time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing mesothelioma and providing prompt medical attention.
If you are experiencing lung-related health issues or have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma after being previously misdiagnosed, a medical professional may have impacted your course of treatment.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, which is a layer of tissue that lines the inside of your chest, your abdomen, and space around the heart. The mesothelium creates a secretion that reduces the friction of your internal organs sliding against each other. The main cause of mesothelioma is by inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. Because of its long latency period, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until decades after a person’s initial exposure.
There are several symptoms that may indicate the presence of mesothelioma. Some of them include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Prolonged coughing spells
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Depending on what part of the body mesothelioma has affected can introduce the possibility of a misdiagnosis from a medical caregiver. There are three major types of mesothelioma that affect different parts of the body:
- Pleural mesothelioma: this affects the lining of the chest (pleura) and can be misdiagnosed as bronchitis, pneumonia, or an upper respiratory infection.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: this affects the lining in the stomach (peritoneum). It can be incorrectly identified as gallstones, a hernia, irritable bowel syndrome, or stomach cancer.
- Pericardial mesothelioma: this primarily grows in the lining of the heart (pericardium), and can be misdiagnosed as heart disease, congestive heart failure, or coronary artery disease.
Testing for mesothelioma can be conducted with a variety of blood tests, cell biopsies, medical imaging (such as a CT scan), and liver function tests. With fewer than 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year, and with such a long latency period between asbestos exposure and diagnosis, doctors may attribute a patient’s symptoms to another type of condition. However, this can be detrimental to the patient’s health, as treatment is needed as soon as possible to promote quality of life.
Asbestos: the Culprit Behind Mesothelioma
The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that was commonly used in building materials until the late 1980s. Asbestos is naturally resistant to both fire and corrosion, and for these reasons, it was used frequently as insulation and in other household materials, but it is extremely dangerous if inhaled.
The asbestos fibers can embed themselves into lung tissue and cause severe scarring that can eventually turn into cancer cells. Many people who have illnesses caused by asbestos attribute it to unsafe working conditions. Workers who specialized in the construction or demolition industry are reported to have come into contact with asbestos much more frequently than those who held jobs in other fields.
In the United States, reports show that up to 30 million homes and commercial buildings were built using materials that contained asbestos. These materials include:
- Vinyl products, including laminate flooring
- Insulation in walls, attics, and around heat-emitting appliances
- Certain types of roofing, including shingles
- Layered paint
- Around pipes, especially those that carry hot water or steam
Catching mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos-related cancers in the initial stage can improve the chances of responding positively to treatment. If you have encountered asbestos at any point in your life, tell your doctor. Yearly screenings are necessary to monitor the development of the disease.
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You May Be Eligible For Compensation if a Doctor Misdiagnosed You With Mesothelioma
If you want to know if mesothelioma can be misdiagnosed, the answer is yes. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma after initially receiving a different, incorrect diagnosis, you may be eligible to collect financial awards to cover the cost of your medical care. Misdiagnosing this deadly disease can waste valuable time needed to treat your condition effectively.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we want to ensure that you or your loved one does not endure any further harm and that those responsible for your misdiagnosis are held accountable. Additionally, if you are interested in pursuing compensation from the company responsible for your asbestos exposure, we can file a claim against one of the many asbestos trust funds.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 307-3113 to discuss your case. Our clients pay nothing upfront and nothing out of pocket. We only collect a fee if we secure a judgment or settlement on your behalf.