Mesothelioma Diagnosis-How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a serious cancer that advances quickly and aggressively. However the diagnosis of this type of cancer is not usually made until it has reached an advanced stage. This is mainly due to two reasons:

1-Mesothelioma has a very long latency period. In a typical case, between 20 to 50 years elapse between asbestos exposure and the onset of the first symptoms of the disease show up.

2-Most of the early and warning symptoms are not specific to mesothelioma; they often resemble symptoms of other conditions that are much less serious. For example, the early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may look like those for influenza or pneumonia, and this can result in misdiagnosis.

The First Stages of Diagnosis

Mesothelioma patients are typically diagnosed within three to six months of their first visit to a doctor when they complain of breathing difficulties or chest and abdominal pain.

The first step involved in diagnosis is providing a full and accurate medical history to your doctor, this should include details about current and past health concerns, as well as the types of symptoms you are currently experiencing. A mention of any exposure to asbestos is essential. Without revealing this fact, your doctor may not consider asbestos-related diseases in his or her diagnosis. Next, patients will undergo a physical examination, where a doctor will examine for certain physical signs in different areas of the body that are suggestive of the diagnosis. Most likely, the doctor's next step will be to recommend further testing.

Diagnostic Tests

If your doctor has good clinical suspicion of an asbestos-related disease, he /she will then requests for certain to confirm the presence of mesothelioma, determine the location, size and type of cancer involved, and to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will often involve imaging tests such as:

-Chest X-ray: This is the most commonly used imaging test for the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Almost all diagnoses will involve an x-ray but a more sophisticated test may follow.

-CT Scan: An x-ray-like procedure in which several x-ray pictures are taken and combined with a computer to produce a detailed image of body tissues. If you undergo a CT scan, you may be given an intravenous injection of dye that helps produce more detailed images.

-PET Scan: Glucose solution is administered via intravenous injection, and a scanner is used to spot deposits of cancer cells. Malignant cells take up and use sugars more quickly than normal cells, so they can be easily distinguished using this procedure.

-MRI Scan: A combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field is used to create detailed three-dimensional images that can be carefully examined by a radiologist.

Fluid and Tissue Tests

These tests, also known as biopsy tests, involve collecting small samples of fluid or tissue and checking them for the presence of cancer cells. These tests are used to actually make a definitive diagnosis of the cancer. Such tests include:

* Fine Needle Aspiration: Mesothelioma cancers cause fluid to build up in affected locations, such as in the pleural membrane of the lungs. During a fine needle aspiration, the surgeon will remove a fluid sample using a very long, thin and hollow needle.

* Thoracoscopy: Thoracoscopy is used in cases where pleural or pericardial mesothelioma is suspected. During this procedure a very small incision is made in the chest wall, through which a sample of tissue is removed.

* Bronchoscopy and Laparoscopy: These procedures are similar to the thoracoscopy, but are performed on different parts of the body. The bronchoscopy is used to view the trachea and airway, while the laparoscopy is used to remove samples of peritoneal tissue.

* Mediastinoscopy: This procedure is used to view lymph nodes in the chest and neck, to determine if cancer has spread from its point of origin. What Should You Do After Receiving The Diagnosis? If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will recommend an "oncologist" (a doctor who has specialized in the treatment of cancers), who is well-versed in treating the disease and will help determine the best options for treatment.

Patients should also educate themselves about mesothelioma and treatment options and reach out to available resources to make coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis easier.

Bello kamorudeen.


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