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How Does a Doctor Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Doctor with chart

Many people have heard about mesothelioma, thanks largely to the commercials that have long played on television, asking individuals suffering from this condition to call in for legal guidance. However, not very many of these advertisements are clear about mesothelioma being an aggressive form of cancer. They also don’t tell you how deadly it is.

Below, we’ll delve a bit deeper into addressing the concerns above. We’ll also address other details about mesothelioma, including how individuals contract this cancer, what symptoms they can expect to deal with, how doctors diagnose their condition, and what patients’ prognoses are like.

How Do Individuals Contract Mesothelioma?

Workers in various industries are most likely to end up receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, although others may receive one too. Let us explain.

Those who are or were formerly employed in the following fields are particularly vulnerable to being exposed to asbestos fibers and, thus, contracting mesothelioma:

  • Shipbuilders
  • Pipefitters
  • Insulators
  • Demolition workers
  • Miners
  • Plumbers
  • Military servicemembers
  • Renovation contractors
  • Brake mechanics
  • Electricians

Although asbestos was largely outlawed in the United States in the 1980s, its use is still permitted in some industries for certain uses. Asbestos fibers can be inhaled or transferred on high-touch surfaces. Many workers have unknowingly been exposed to this harmful mineral at work and have unknowingly brought it home on their bodies or clothes to family members, leading to secondary exposure.

Many discussions that our Hawaii mesothelioma attorneys have focus on workers’ risks for contracting this disease and their potential to pass it on to their loved ones. However, individuals have received such a diagnosis after exposure to asbestos in a non-work environment. One of the more notable situations is through talcum powder exposure.

The Connection Between Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma

You’ve likely heard stories in the news where women have joined lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that their former baby powder use resulted in their ovarian cancer diagnoses. Some of those women claimed that their use of the product resulted in their mesothelioma diagnoses and have since settled with the company.

Exposure to the harmful mineral asbestos through talc isn’t just something women have had to worry about. A 78-year-old man recently won a case against the manufacturer of Old Spice Talcum Powder, a product he used for 22 years, after he alleged that his use of it resulted in him contracting mesothelioma.

As you can tell in reading these two examples, mesothelioma can affect much more than workers. And these examples aren’t illustrative of how individuals may unknowingly be exposed to harmful asbestos fibers.

How Do Individuals Come To Learn They Have Mesothelioma?

People often ask how doctors diagnose mesothelioma. Generally, it comes down to a patient showing up with tell-tale signs of this disease and doctors putting two and two together as to what’s going on. Why?

Once inhaled, these harmful asbestos fibers remain latent in the body for quite some time, meaning that many patients go without any noticeable disease symptoms. Decades may pass before individuals start showing signs of respiratory distress, a marked symptom of this deadly disease.

This symptomology generally leads patients to the doctor. Once there, physicians and their health care teams do the following before zeroing in on a mesothelioma diagnosis:

  • Take a patient’s thorough work and medical history.
  • Order imaging studies, such as X-rays, CTs, and PET scans.
  • Perform biopsies.

You’ll find these different diagnostic approaches described in detail on the Diagnosing Mesothelioma webpage.

What Symptoms Do Mesothelioma Patients Experience?

Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t just one type of mesothelioma that exists. There are actually two types which are the most common. These are the pleural and peritoneal varieties of mesothelioma.

Patients suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma may experience the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort and swelling

In contrast, individuals with pleural mesothelioma often endure symptoms most commonly associated with the disease, including:

  • Painful coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Subcutaneous lumps in the chest area

Many of these initial signs of respiratory distress quickly progress into something far worse in pleural mesothelioma patients. Chest pain and labored breathing can quickly evolve into patients:

  • Finding it challenging to swallow
  • Fluid accumulating in their lungs
  • Discomfort along their spinal cords

Individuals suffering from either type of mesothelioma may also experience unexplained weight loss leading up to their diagnoses.

What Prognosis Do Mesothelioma Patients Have?

A small handful of patients are fortunate to have doctors discover abnormalities within their lungs early on. Doctors operate on some of those patients to remove their cancerous masses. Some of those individuals can go on and live normal lives.

That being said, most patients’ mesothelioma is often at too advanced of a stage for doctors to do much aside from helping manage their symptoms.

Doctors may initially have patients undergo chemotherapy to shrink their tumors. Mesothelioma tends to regrow quickly, though.

The American Cancer Society notes that approaches that have alleviated pain among some inoperable mesothelioma patients include:

  • Immunotherapy
  • The carving of electrical fields into tumors
  • Targeted therapy medications

While none of the above-referenced therapeutical approaches will likely eradicate a patient’s body of the disease, they might aid in extending their life. It’s unlikely that any of these treatment approaches will allow a patient to return to living their life as they used to pre-diagnosis, though.

Help in Recovering Compensation To Treat Your Mesothelioma

While there’s likely no turning the hands of time back to make you disease-free if you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are steps that you can take to alleviate some of your symptoms. Like all medical care, these treatments can be costly. You may have to travel to receive the ones you need.

Our Hawaii mesothelioma attorneys can help you recover what you need to cover your expenses, which may include tapping into an asbestos trust. Our Frost Law Firm, PC team would be happy to go over avenues for compensation. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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