Can Mesothelioma Be Caught Early?

Posted on March 2, 2021

diagnosing mesothelioma at an early stageMesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lungs or other organs from exposure to asbestos. There is no known cure for the disease, no matter the stage a patient receives a diagnosis.

However, it is possible – although difficult – to catch mesothelioma early. Early detection offers mesothelioma patients a greater range of treatment options, which are often unavailable once the cancer has metastasized. A patient may have more time to spend with loved ones if doctors diagnose and treat an asbestos-related disease at an early stage.

PWHD discusses tests that might help diagnose mesothelioma earlier, including the challenges people face in getting screened for mesothelioma without a known risk of asbestos exposure. Our firm has over 45 years of experience managing mesothelioma claims for Virginia residents. We are here to answer your questions. The initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation to hire us.

Diagnostic Imaging Technologies

Patients with a known history of asbestos exposure could be recommended to undergo regular imaging tests to look for changes in the lungs and chest that might be signs of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Imaging tests that may be useful in detecting mesothelioma early include:

X-Ray Imaging

This imaging may show fluid buildup around the lungs, abdomen or heart, thickening of the lining of the lungs, or the presence of abnormal growths or tumors. It cannot, however, positively diagnose mesothelioma or identify mesothelioma type.

Computed Tomography (CT)

A CT scan contains more detailed information than conventional X-ray imaging. CT scans can help show the size, shape and location of a tumor. It can also be used to determine whether surgical treatment is an option and what effects other therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can have on the cancer.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan produces detailed images of the body’s organs, bones, muscles, and blood vessels using a large magnet and radio waves. An MRI scan can also indicate whether the cancer has metastasized.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET scans use small amounts of radioactive materials to help measure the metabolic activity in the body. Cancer cells can show up as bright spots on PET scans since they have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. These spots can reveal whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Integrated PET-CT

PET-CT scans can give a clearer, more accurate image of what is happening inside the body. These scans can detect cancer, determine whether the cancer has spread and assess the effectiveness of treatment.

It is important to note that mesothelioma cannot be diagnosed with imaging tests alone. Mesothelioma can only be positively diagnosed through examination of tissue by a pathologist as a result of a biopsy or autopsy. However, researchers continue to study how these tests and other diagnostic measures for this cancer might be helpful in finding mesothelioma at an earlier stage. Imaging tests may also be used to monitor the course of the disease for people already diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Benefits of an Early Diagnosis

Although mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer, patients who are diagnosed early generally have better treatment options and survival rates than those diagnosed at a later stage. Surgery – in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy – may be available.

Studies have shown that even without surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments may help lengthen the lives of mesothelioma patients. In the most severe cases, supportive treatment to relieve symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life may be the only option.

Why Diagnosing Mesothelioma Early is Challenging

One of the reasons mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at a late stage is because the early stages of the disease usually cause no symptoms. The cancer is small in early stages and does not affect the body in the same way as a larger, late-stage tumor.

The time between being initially exposed to asbestos and receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis generally takes 20 to 50 years. Aside from the amount of time for the disease and symptoms to develop, diagnosis is often also delayed because mesothelioma symptoms can mimic other common conditions.

If you were exposed to asbestos, discuss this and any symptoms you may be experiencing with your doctor. He or she may recommend regular screening tests as part of your routine care.

Our Lawyers at PWHD Are Here to Help

At PWHD, our lawyers fight for financial recovery for victims of asbestos companies. We are ready to help investigate your diagnosis and determine if a negligent party caused your asbestos exposure.

We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront fees to take on a case. Call today to discuss your situation. Our case reviews are free and confidential.

Talk to a lawyer today. Ph: 1-800-459-1881
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