Apart from watching out for known symptoms of the disease, you can know if you have mesothelioma through cancer screenings. Signs of mesothelioma can resemble those of other illnesses, so there is always a chance that doctors will misdiagnose cancer if they only refer to your symptoms. You will need to have a biopsy and likely submit to imaging scans and blood tests. It is also possible to discover early mesothelioma symptoms as you come in for your routine tests.
While it can be difficult to know if you have mesothelioma lung cancer or another disease, you may experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and accumulation of fluid in your chest, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. A doctor can order tests to find out whether your symptoms are due to mesothelioma or another condition.
Causes of Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
For decades, asbestos fibers were mined and used in construction materials, automotive parts, fire-resistant clothing, appliances, cookware, cosmetics, and other household items. Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma lung cancer, but symptoms can take years and even decades to appear. That can make it difficult to figure out when and how an individual came into contact with the substance.
In many cases, individuals who have mesothelioma lung cancer could have been exposed to asbestos at their jobs. The disease has claimed the lives of people who worked in fields like:
- Industrial and automotive
Members of their families may have been exposed to asbestos when individuals who worked around the carcinogen brought home fibers on their clothes or bodies. Some mesothelioma lung cancer patients were exposed to asbestos because common household products contained it.
If you or your loved one is at high risk for developing mesothelioma, you probably have many questions about the disease. Knowing the possible symptoms of the disease and treatment options is vital to have a better understanding of what to expect. It is only natural to try and seek answers about what could lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis and who should be responsible for your injury.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is one form of cancer that affects the mesothelium or the tissue lining the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
Asbestos exposure is often the cause of the disease, according to the National Institute of Cancer. That’s because its fibers often lodge inside the mesothelium after inhalation or ingestion, causing surrounding cells to mutate and multiply, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Tumors then form, and cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body after some time.
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What Are Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma symptoms are usually mild during the early stages, making it difficult to catch the disease at its onset. Often, symptoms become apparent only after spreading to other parts of the body. According to Mayo Clinic, patients who have mesothelioma may experience the following:
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
- Persistent cough
- Pain and fluid buildup in the affected area
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bloody sputum
- Shoulder and back pain
When tumors spread throughout the body, symptoms can become more severe and cause organs to shut down. Unfortunately, many patients receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma when it is already at the advanced stages. This underlines the importance of consulting with a doctor if you have a history of asbestos exposure.
Diagnosing Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
The most common form of the disease is pleural mesothelioma. That type of cancer affects the pleura, or the lining around the lungs. According to Cancer.net, 75% to 80% of mesothelioma patients have pleural mesothelioma.
The only way to know if you have mesothelioma lung cancer is to receive a diagnosis from a doctor. A doctor may order a series of tests to figure out if you have mesothelioma lung cancer or if your symptoms are related to something else. A physician may remove fluid from the area around your lungs using a needle and analyze it to look for the presence of cancer cells.
If the test detects cancer, the doctor may follow it up with a biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of tissue with a needle, a thin tube inserted through an incision, or possibly surgery. That tissue can then be analyzed to find out if you have mesothelioma lung cancer.
A physician may order blood tests to check the functioning of your other organs. A pulmonary function test can provide insight into how well your lungs are working.
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How a Doctor Determines the Severity of Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
Doctors often use one or more imaging tests to find out if a patient has mesothelioma lung cancer and, if so, how advanced the disease is. Those tests include x-rays, CT scans that combine several x-rays to create a 3-D picture of the inside of the body, MRIs that produce images using magnetic fields, and PET scans that use a radiolabeled sugar substance given via an injection or a pill to detect the presence of cancer.
The survival rate for mesothelioma overall is low, but several factors can affect how long a particular individual with the disease may survive. People who are diagnosed before the mesothelioma has progressed to an advanced stage have a higher survival rate, and those who are diagnosed when they are relatively young tend to live longer than those who are older when they receive a diagnosis. Your doctor will recommend a course of treatment based on the stage of your illness.
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Why Is Early Diagnosis Critical?
Even if it is challenging to detect mesothelioma in its early stages, you can take it upon yourself to look for signs of the disease. An early diagnosis increases the chances of having a better prognosis and access to a wider range of treatments. You can request regular checkups and scans if you or your family member had asbestos exposure, even if it happened decades ago. Keep in mind that mesothelioma symptoms can develop even 50 years after your contact with asbestos. Diagnosis is the best treatment when it comes to mesothelioma.
Can You File a Lawsuit for Mesothelioma?
If you believe another party was responsible for your asbestos exposure, which caused you to get mesothelioma, you can sue them an get compensation. However, it is best to speak to a mesothelioma lawyer to determine if filing a lawsuit is the right course of action and learn more about other possible legal options. Compensation that you could receive includes asbestos trust fund, mesothelioma lawsuit, mesothelioma settlement, and veterans’ benefits. Eligibility for compensation varies for each claimant, and your attorney can further discuss the best option for you.
What Can You Do to Manage Mesothelioma Symptoms?
To improve your quality of life once you are experiencing signs of the disease, you can talk to your doctor about symptom management. You must follow the right diet to keep your energy and strength up as you go through necessary treatments. Your doctor may refer you to a mesothelioma specialist who may use advanced medical equipment to treat your disease.
According to the Journal of Thoracic Disease, they may recommend either surgery to remove tumors or radiation therapy to relieve the pressure and pain that tumors may cause. Many mesothelioma patients end up undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of two or more of these treatments. In some cases, doctors will recommend experimental therapies such as gene therapy, immunotherapy, or phototherapy.
Remember to update your doctor about any changes in the severity of your symptoms so you can receive the proper care that will alleviate any pain or discomfort you may feel.
Reach Out to Us Today if You Have Other Questions
We can help you identify your exposure and discover who is responsible for your illness. If you have been injured because of another party’s negligence, you deserve justice and fair compensation for expenses and losses related to your disease. We at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are committed to providing you with an honest evaluation of your case and representation if you decide to pursue a claim.
Call our office today at (800) 794-0444 to inquire about our mesothelioma lawyers and to schedule your free consultation.