Mesothelioma | Unsplash
Asbestos-related diseases can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Mesothelioma is perhaps the most serious among the diseases caused by asbestos exposure. It’s a rare form of cancer that affects the protective lining (called the mesothelium) and can spread to most internal organs.
The disease becomes particularly dangerous when these cancer cells spread to other body parts. Its diagnosis follows a series of tests, including a biopsy, and it can take decades before you experience the symptoms.
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What to Do If You or Your Loved One Has Developed Mesothelioma
If you have reasons to believe that you or a loved one has developed an asbestos-related disease, it’s essential to get an initial understanding of what to expect.
As with all medical conditions or treatment, it’s best to maintain an open line of communication with your doctor through all stages of diagnosis and treatment.
What Happens Next?
If your health care provider suspects that you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related problem, they will usually begin by identifying the possibility of asbestos exposure.
It would include examining your medical, employment, and environmental history. For example, someone who has been restoring old buildings for several years may have got exposed.
Next, your health care provider will perform a physical exam that may include one or more of the following:
- Chest x-ray – Pulmonary function tests.
- Computed Tomography (CT).
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
If one or more of these tests identify something suspicious, your health care provider will likely recommend a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. A biopsy can be a needle biopsy or an open biopsy.
In a needle biopsy, fluid is removed and checked for cancer cells. In an open biopsy, a surgeon will make a small incision in the chest wall or abdominal cavity and remove a tissue sample to test for cancer cells.
Once the fluid or tissue sample has been obtained, your health care provider will have a pathologist examine it. After the pathologist’s positive mesothelioma diagnosis, your health care provider will recommend the appropriate treatment.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options
If you get a positive result in a mesothelioma diagnosis, your primary health care provider will refer you to an oncologist for treatment. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer. They often specialize in certain types of cancer, so you should consider looking for those who specialize in mesothelioma or lung cancer.
For a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma, recommended treatment options are based on the patient’s overall health and the “stage” of the disease. Staging is a system developed by doctors to assess the progression of a disease.
For mesothelioma, doctors have developed three different staging systems – the Butchart System, which analyzes the extent of the primary tumor mass; the TNM System, which analyzes the tumor mass, lymph node involvement, and metastasis; the Brigham system, which surgically removes tumors and lymph node involvement.
After evaluating general health and the stage of the disease, the most commonly available treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, or special clinical trials. However, some oncologists may also recommend immunotherapy or gene therapy in some instances.
Cancers isolated in one place are much easier to treat than cancers that have metastasized (or spread to different parts of the body).
Because there are various treatment options available, patients should not hesitate to ask about the pros and cons of each one. Treatment methods are constantly changing, so finding the best treatment option for your situation can make all the difference.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma? Get Expert Legal Advice
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, treatment is often physically and emotionally taxing, leading to huge medical costs. By filing a mesothelioma claim, patients can receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Before moving forward with your claim, it is a good idea to first meet with an attorney like the Belluck & Fox Mesothelioma cases attorneys to get a better idea of what is to come.