Mesothelioma is a very tricky disease. It is a type of lung cancer and, as is common with lung cancer, symptoms of the disease can take many years to develop.
Mesothelioma is caused from exposure to asbestos. The disease usually lies undetected for up to 30 years after it first develops. Once symptoms are present the disease has already progressed to the late stage when treatment is very difficult. There is little treatment that can be effective in the later stages of mesothelioma.
Detecting the Disease
Symptoms of mesothelioma can vary from person to person, which adds to the difficulty in detecting the disease. Symptoms also vary depending on the type of mesothelioma. It can be pleural, peritoneal or pericardial. Another issue with detecting the disease is that the symptoms can often be confused with common illnesses like the flu, bronchitis and heart disease.
The best chance of detecting the disease is a careful review of the history of the patient. Discovering previous exposure to asbestos can be the main thing to trigger testing for mesothelioma and finally the detection of the disease. Testing that is currently used is quite expensive. Many times doctors will avoid testing unless they have a specific reason to suspect mesothelioma.
There is research being done to help develop tests for the earlier detection of the disease. These tests would hopefully be able to diagnose the disease early enough for treatment to be effective.
The most common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
– shortness of breath
– chest pain
– weight loss that is unexplained
– sleeping problems
These symptoms can easily be misdiagnosed. Many of them are common symptoms of bronchial illness or even heart disease. During the time that a doctor is investing these possible illnesses, the cancer is given time to grow further. This is a costly mistake. Doctors often do not immediately think that it could be mesothelioma unless they know a patient’s history of asbestos exposure.
There are three common courses of treatment. The treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery is the most common option since it allows for removal of the infected area. Lining in the chest and abdomen, part of the lungs or part of the diaphragm may be removed during surgery. Radiation may be used to kill cancer cells that cannot be removed through surgery. Chemotherapy can also be used to kill off cancer cells. No treatment is completely effective since lung cancer be difficult to treat in general as it spreads very quickly in the later stages throughout the body.
Mesothelioma is a very deadly cancer. It is difficult to detect during early stages when cancer is best treated. It is also expensive to diagnose since tests can be costly. Many doctors will look for other illnesses before ever checking for mesothelioma. This is why if you have been exposed to asbestos and are exhibiting symptoms of mesothelioma then you need to inform your doctor about your asbestos exposure. This is the best chance you have of catching the disease and starting treatment that could save your life.