According to the National Institute for Health (NIH), an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people receive a mesothelioma diagnosis annually in the United States. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be difficult in part because the time that usually elapses between your exposure to asbestos and the development of symptoms is anywhere from 10 to 50 years.
Making an early diagnosis of mesothelioma is a challenge because several of its symptoms are similar to those of other common diseases. People often dismiss their mesothelioma symptoms as a common cold or sinus infection and avoid seeking medical attention. As a result, many people get a mesothelioma diagnosis at an advanced stage of the disease.
Common Methods of Mesothelioma Diagnosis
How do medical professionals make a mesothelioma diagnosis? Below are some common methods used to determine a mesothelioma diagnosis:
- A complete medical history. In addition to performing a thorough medical examination, your doctor may take a complete medical history to assess your risk factors, such as previous history of asbestos exposure.
- Imaging studies. Your doctor may schedule chest X-rays, CT scans and MRIs to detect if cancer is present in your body. If mesothelioma is found, these tests can help determine the size, location and extent of the cancer.
- Blood tests. Your mesothelioma doctor may also conduct blood tests to look for a certain protein called osteopontin. Osteopontin is elevated in people who have mesothelioma.
- Fluid testing. If fluid has built up in your chest or abdomen, the doctor may take a sample and test it for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, he or she will need to conduct further tests to determine whether the cancer is mesothelioma, lung cancer or another type of cancer.
- Biopsy. Your doctor may also conduct a biopsy in which tissue samples are taken from inside your chest or abdomen and checked for cancer growth. Surgery may allow the doctor to take a larger sample of the tumor or the entire tumor.
If you’ve already received a mesothelioma diagnosis, your doctor may conduct tests to determine if the cancer has spread. This process is called staging. Doctors determine which treatments to use based on mesothelioma stages, or the severity of the disease.
When it comes to filing a lawsuit after a mesothelioma diagnosis, time is of the essence. Often times, the more quickly you act, the greater your chance of receiving the financial compensation you and your family need—and deserve. If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact Sokolove Law, a leading asbestos law firm, to learn about your legal options.