A doctor may test the fluid around your lungs, perform a biopsy, order blood and pulmonary function tests, and utilize a variety of imaging tests to check for mesothelioma lung cancer. Your physician will speak to you about your symptoms, medical history, and possible exposure to asbestos to decide which tests are appropriate.
What Is Mesothelioma Lung Cancer?
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the lining that surrounds the heart, chest, abdomen, and testicles. Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States each year.
According to the Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, pleural mesothelioma affects the pleura, or the lining of the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma reduces the lungs’ air capacity and makes it more difficult for them to expand and contract.
Pleural mesothelioma rarely displays symptoms early on. By the time some patients receive a correct diagnosis, the disease has advanced so much that patients have a poor prognosis. Specialized treatments may improve some patients’ health and quality of life.
According to the journal, about 80% of people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos, or naturally occurring mineral fibers that industrial applications and household products contained for years. Some of these companies established asbestos trust funds for victims who suffered exposure, according to Reuters.
Common Tests Doctors Use to Check for Mesothelioma Lung Cancer
In some cases, one of the first symptoms of mesothelioma lung cancer is pleural effusion, or fluid around the lungs. If you are experiencing that symptom, a doctor may insert a needle between your lung and the wall of your chest to remove fluid so they can test it to find out if cancer cells are present. If cancerous cells occur, that alone may not be enough to definitively diagnose mesothelioma.
The doctor may also order a biopsy. In that procedure, the doctor removes a small amount of tissue with a needle, a thin tube inserted through an incision, or sometimes via surgery. They examine the sample to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of mesothelioma lung cancer.
Your physician may order tests. Bloodwork can check how your other organs, such as your liver, kidney, and thyroid, are working. A pulmonary function test can measure how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly air moves in and out of your lungs, and how well your lungs can add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from your blood.
The doctor may also order one or more imaging tests. A chest X-ray can help a physician figure out if you have mesothelioma and, if so, where the cancer sits in the body.
Computed tomography (CT scan) uses X-rays of several angles to create a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body that can help a doctor see tumors and estimate their size. They may administer a dye, called a contrast medium, in the form of an injection or a pill, before the CT scan. The dye produces more clearly defined images, which can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to create images of the inside of the body so a doctor can determine the size of a tumor. You may be given a contrast medium to produce clearer images.
Positron emission tomography (PET scan) is another imaging test your doctor may order. Before a PET scan, you will receive an injection with a small amount of a radiolabeled sugar substance. Cells in your body that use the most energy will absorb the sugar substance. Since cancer uses energy actively, if you have mesothelioma lung cancer, areas where tumors are present will absorb more of the radiolabeled sugar than healthy parts of the body. That will help the doctor see where cancer occurs in the body.
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How Your Doctor Will Evaluate Your Test Results
A series of tests can help your doctor check for mesothelioma lung cancer. If you have the disease, imaging tests can tell your physician how advanced it is. Your doctor will determine the stage of the cancer based on the size and location of the primary tumor and whether the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body. That will help you and your doctor decide on a treatment plan. Following up with a medical treatment plan may not only improve your quality of life but also help you establish evidence should you choose to pursue a liability claim.
Get Legal Help When Seeking Compensation for Your Illness
People who suffered exposure to asbestos are often not diagnosed with mesothelioma until decades later, but it may still be possible to hold those responsible for the illness accountable. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may help you seek justice through a personal injury lawsuit or pursue compensation from an asbestos trust fund if the company that is liable for your mesothelioma lung cancer has declared bankruptcy. Call our office at (800) 794-0444 for your free consultation.
Along with a free consultation, our contingency-fee basis helps victims of asbestos exposure seek compensation without having to pay any fees up front or out of pocket. Statutes of limitation apply if you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, so call us as soon as you can.