The history of asbestos use is a long and sordid one. You have to wonder how it took so long to discover that it caused a deadly disease. Even with all of the mesothelioma information available, people are still discovering it too late. If you suffer from exposure to asbestos, you need to be careful and have regular screenings.
Symptoms to Watch For
There are a few symptoms that you can watch for after exposure to asbestos. You should see your doctor if you have pain in the chest under the rib cage, abdominal pain, unusual lumps in the abdomen, difficulty breathing or unexplained weight loss. You could also experience abdominal bloating, cough and general fatigue. While it might be nothing, it is best to catch this particular type of cancer very early.
It is important to remember that the symptoms of exposure may not appear right away. They could take up to 20 to 40 years to appear. The average age for someone to be diagnosed with mesothelioma is 60 and the average length of time for cancer to develop is around 30 years. This is why it was so difficult for doctors to make the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma.
Testing for Mesothelioma
If your doctor thinks that you have mesothelioma, they will perform various tests to check areas of the body that are likely to contain tumors or cancer indicators.
CT scans can confirm the presence, location and stage of cancer. It does this by taking cross-section images of your body.
Your doctor will x-ray your chest to as a first step. A chest x-ray can show calcification, thickening or other issues associated with mesothelioma and other cancers.
Typically there are two types of blood tests for mesothelioma. There is a test that looks for soluble mesothelin-related peptides and one that looks for Fibulin-3. Although they do not definitively say that you have mesothelioma, these tests indicate that it is a strong possibility, and further testing is necessary.
Doctors will test fluids in the thorax, abdomen and from around the heart to find out if there are cancer cells in the fluid. If the fluid contains cancer cells, the doctors will do more advanced testing to determine the type of cancer.
When they find tumors, they will biopsy the tumor to see if it is cancerous. If it is, the doctor will develop a treatment plan for you to begin.