Mesothelioma is a serious illness that is often linked to asbestos exposure. It is sometimes hard to diagnose because it has symptoms that mimic other conditions. Those symptoms can be as simple as chest pain or shortness of breath.
There are different forms of mesothelioma, peritoneal, pleural, pericardial, and tunica vaginalis. Each of these affects different areas of the body, which can also influence how long it takes to get a diagnosis.
What is the most common way to get a mesothelioma diagnosis?
One of the most common ways to get diagnosed is by going to the doctor with unusual symptoms, like a chronic cough or shortness of breath, and getting tested to find the cause.
Your doctor might order a number of tests, such as:
- Computerized tomography tests
- Chest X-rays
Once they do this, they will look at the findings to determine if they’d like to go forward with a biopsy.
With a biopsy, a small amount of tissue is extracted for examination in a laboratory. This is done with either a minor surgery or by inserting a needle into the skin and then deeper into the area of the body that needs to be biopsied.
If mesothelioma is identified, then you may go on to have additional testing performed to see the severity of the cancer and if it has spread to other areas of your body or your lymph nodes.
Some additional tests that might be ordered include:
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans
After these tests, your medical provider will assign the cancer a stage if it’s pleural mesothelioma. Other forms don’t have a formal staging process.
What should you do if you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma?
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you should follow through with all medical treatments that are advised for you. You may also have a claim for exposure to asbestos. If you have worked for an employer who exposed workers to asbestos, then you may be able to make a claim to seek compensation for your injuries. This claim may help you get the medical care you need while supporting yourself through the treatment process.