Mesothelioma Diagnosis: What You Should Know

This article is the second of a four part series in which helpful information will be detailed for victims of mesothelioma. Part I is Mesothelioma Symptoms. The series will follow with: Part III- Mesothelioma Prognosis; Part IV – Mesothelioma Lawyer

After experiencing symptoms for some time, your doctor has given you a mesothelioma diagnosis. Where should you go from here? With this type of diagnosis, it doesn’t take long to realize you need to get your priorities in order. This cancer is incurable and because mesothelioma symptoms often mimic those of a common cold or flu and also because most cases are not detected until decades after exposure to asbestos, time is a critical factor in managing the necessities of what comes next. Even the most mundane activities can now seem overwhelming and the clock is ticking…no time to waste.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period meaning you may have no idea how or when you were exposed to the source of the cancer – asbestos. After diagnosis it is important that you begin to think about what jobs you have held – even up to 5 decades ago – as this will help trace the point of infection. Because the fibers are so microscopic, if you even came in contact with someone else who was exposed to asbestos, you could have been inadvertently exposed. This information will help you if you decide to file suit and go after the company responsible for your exposure in a court of law.

After careful evaluation, there are a variety of exams necessary to correctly diagnose your mesothelioma. Most often, you will be required to undergo a complete physical examination including x, rays, lung function tests, a CT scan, MRI and possibly a tissue or fluid biopsy. When given a mesothelioma diagnosis, your medical expert will confirm the type of mesothelioma that you have. Pericardial mesothelioma attacks cells lining the heart, known as pericardium. This is the rarest form of the disease affecting only about 5 percent of those diagnosed. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects close to 20-30 percent of patients and is concentrated in the abdominal cavity. Pleural mesothelioma is the form that affects up to 75 percent of victims and this is concentrated in the lungs. Testicular mesothelioma is a form of peritoneal mesothelioma and has only touched up to 100 patients in the last 20 years. Once you have been given a diagnosis, your doctor should be able to tell you which type you have been infected with.

An initial question many victims that are given a mesothelioma diagnosis have is about life expectancy. Although no one can exactly calculate how long an individual will survive the disease, general observations exist based on other patient outcomes. Currently, the life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis is between six to eighteen months. Available therapies can impact some patients depending on the stage of the cancer diagnosis. Taking on an aggressive therapy may include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy or any combination of therapies can provide a longer than average life expectancy.

The most important thing to do is act. Find out from your doctor the best course of action to take for your individual case and embrace it.