Mesothelioma Tests and Early Detection

Mesothelioma has symptoms which can also be found in a variety of other ailments. While you may need the services of a mesothelioma doctor once diagnosis is confirmed, your family doctor may need to order tests to get that confirmation. Early detection can make the difference between mesothelioma treatments for a localized condition or one that has metastasized and spread to other areas in the body.

Mesothelioma symptoms such as chest pain and irregular heartbeat are found in other equally serious problems. Even if your medical issues are caused by a condition other than mesothelioma, quick action when experiencing chest pain, bowel obstructions, or abdominal pain can prevent your case from becoming aggravated from lack of treatment.

Once you seek medical help, be sure to tell your doctor of any potential exposure to asbestos or related materials. Sometimes people don’t fully appreciate the hazards of a current or former occupation and don’t think to include details in a medical questionnaire or when the doctor asks for information on your background. If you were ever employed as a plumber, auto mechanic, builder, or even as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, you could be at risk for mesothelioma. If you were potentially exposed to asbestos, even in a small way, your doctor should know.

Before you are referred to a mesothelioma doctor, your doctor will consider your history along your symptoms. How do shortness of breath, fever, and chronic cough compare with your potential risk for the disease? Those symptoms by themselves could indicate any number of less serious problems; when accompanied by abnormal blood clotting, irregular heartbeat or a lowered red blood cell count your doctor will most likely order medical tests to discover what is causing the problems.

Such tests may include an arterial blood gas analysis, measurements of lung capacity, a full-body CAT scan, or a biopsy of a possibly cancerous growth. Tests such as the blood gas analysis and lung capacity measurements are designed to show whether the body is functioning normally; a biopsy is more specific. Suspicious growths (or a portion of them) are removed and studied to determine whether they are malignant or benign.

If the results of these tests indicate mesothelioma, you have several choices to make. You may wish to seek a second opinion to ensure your diagnosis is correct. In these cases you may require additional examination and testing. A second doctor will study the results of the first round of tests along with your history, and then determine what kind of medical detective work is needed to confirm the original diagnosis or identify a possible alternative answer.

If the original diagnosis is confirmed, or you decide against getting a second opinion, your next decision is what to do about your mesothelioma treatment options. It’s important to make an informed choice-talk to your doctor about the benefits of a mesothelioma doctor and using a team of specialists to treat you. If your local hospital is not equipped to handle the extensive care you may require, ask for a referral to a mesothelioma expert and how to arrange treatment.

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The Simmons Hanly Conroy Editorial Team consists of journalists, writers and editors who strive to deliver accurate and useful information to families needing legal help. Our team works alongside the firm's attorneys and partners, as well as with medical professionals and other specialists, to keep all information relevant and helpful.