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How Mesothelioma is Diagnosed
Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Mesothelioma diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure.
- A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful.
- CT Scan used for a mesothelioma diagnosis is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
- MRI used for mesothelioma diagnosis is a powerful magnet linked to a computer that is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed.
- Your doctor will review your work history, especially whether you have worked in an industry in which you may have been exposed to asbestos.
If fluid is present in the pleura or peritoneum, a thin needle may be used to collect a small sample of the fluid for examination. This procedure, called fine-needle aspiration, also may be used to drain the fluid to relieve symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath that can result from an effusion. Occasionally, mesothelioma can be diagnosed with this fluid sample alone, but usually a tissue sample (biopsy) is required.
The tissue sample can be obtained via thoracoscopy (for a pleural tumor) or via laparoscopy (for an abdominal tumor). In both procedures, a tubelike instrument inserted through a small incision allows the physician to view the tumor and collect a tissue sample. Patients suspected of having pleural mesothelioma also may need a procedure called bronchoscopy.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis - Three Types of Mesothelioma :
Sub-Types (or cell types) of Mesothelioma are:
- Epithelial (the most common, and considered the most amenable to treatment)
- Sarcomatous (a much more aggressive form)
- Biphasic or mixed (a combination of both of the other cell types).
Mesothelioma Diagnosis - Staging
Once the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma has been confirmed, the next step is determining the extent of the disease (called staging). Imaging studies, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), allow physicians to assess the stage of the disease and determine the most appropriate treatment. The stages of malignant mesothelioma are:
- Stage I - The tumor is found in the pleura with or without some involvement of the lung, pericardium (lining of the heart) or diaphragm.
- Stage II - The tumor is found in a stage I location, plus there is involvement of some lymph nodes in the chest.
- Stage III - The tumor has extended into the chest wall, ribs or heart, through the diaphragm or into the peritoneum (the abdominal lining). There also may be involvement of the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV - The tumor has spread through the bloodstream to distant sites (that is, it has metastasized).
Recurrent mesothelioma - The tumor has recurred after treatment.
Stage I also is called localized disease, whereas stages II to IV are called advanced disease. Stage I disease generally has the best prognosis, particularly when the tumor is of the epithelial type.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis - Expected Duration
Once it develops, this type of cancer will continue to grow and spread until treatment is provided.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis - Prevention
To reduce your risk of malignant mesothelioma, you should reduce your exposure to asbestos. Because there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, any asbestos exposure is too much. Especially if you have an older home, check for areas of exposed asbestos-containing insulation or other areas of deteriorating asbestos. These areas must be removed professionally or safely sealed off. Workers who routinely deal with asbestos-containing materials should use approved measures to limit their exposure and to keep from bringing asbestos dust home on their clothing.
Those dealing with asbestos and mesothelioma face a number of challenges, including the tremendous costs of treatment. If you were unknowingly exposed to harmful levels of asbestos, you have legal rights and there is help available for you.
Deciding which law firm to represent you and your case is very important. Choosing the right law firm will also be important to your settlement. You are entitled to an experienced mesothelioma law firm who has a track record of success in asbestos lawsuits.
It is not uncommon for there to be 10-20 parties that are named in a asbestos lawsuit that are located across the United States. For example, a worker in California may have been exposed to asbestos from asbestos products shipped from Libby, Montana or from an iron ore plant in St. Paul Minnesota. This is why it is very important to obtain an experienced asbestos mesothelioma law firm that knows all of the companies in each state who have responsibility for your asbestos exposure.
If you are a grieving family member or executor of the will of a person who has died from asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file a claim as well.
We help with you file Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related claims in each state
Call us toll free at 800.291.0963 or use quick contact form located at the right of this page and we will contact you within 24 hours.