How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed and Treated?

[Page Updated 06/16/2022] Imaging studies, such as CT scans, chest X-rays, blood tests, and a biopsy, are all used to diagnose Mesothelioma.

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If a patient exhibits signs of Mesothelioma, a doctor performs a physical examination.

Their job is to look for anomalies and cancer cells and recommends the patient to an oncologist for testing before a mesothelioma diagnosis.

How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed? Peritoneal Mesothelioma? Malignant Mesothelioma? What does it Mean?

Posted on Los Angeles Injury Law Blog / Blog / How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed and Treated?

Doctors order various tests to narrow down the cause based on the patient’s symptoms. Imaging scans for another condition may identify malignant Mesothelioma in certain circumstances. In other situations, a known history of asbestos exposure may necessitate a tissue sample biopsy.

Each patient’s route to a malignant mesothelioma cancer diagnosis is different.

It is critical to provide your doctor with a detailed work history during the diagnostic process. Doctors are unlikely to detect the condition unless a patient mentions a profession where asbestos exposure may have happened. Symptoms of Mesothelioma usually appear 20 to 50 years after the first asbestos exposure.

Every year, more than 3,000 instances of Mesothelioma are diagnosed by doctors. Since Mesothelioma is a rare disease with symptoms similar to those of more frequent and less severe illnesses, doctors may mistake it for another disease or type of cancer.

Patients with Mesothelioma frequently receive an incorrect diagnosis at first. Malignant pleural Mesothelioma is commonly misdiagnosed as lung cancer or pneumonia by doctors. Peritoneal Mesothelioma might resemble other types of abdominal malignancy. A mesothelioma specialist uses imaging scans, biopsy data, and further testing to make a correct diagnosis.

What Steps Result in Finding Cancer Cells and a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

Although not every patient requires all of these tests, the path from symptoms to a final diagnosis for most mesothelioma patients is usually the same. Because the symptoms of Mesothelioma are so ambiguous, getting a diagnosis can be a lengthy procedure. Pleural Mesothelioma causes shortness of breath and coughing, while peritoneal illness causes digestive problems and abdominal pain.

Symptoms

Shortness of breath, coughing, and abdominal or chest pain are early signs of Mesothelioma. Patients with pleural Mesothelioma are more prone to respiratory problems, but weariness is typical of any mesothelioma.

Physical Exam

Patients’ doctors conduct a physical exam to check the lungs, heart, and other essential organs when they report their symptoms to them. A thorough medical and employment history might also aid in determining the cause of the disease.

Mesothelioma Testing

PET and CT scans of the abdomen and chest identify the location and extent of the illness. Doctors use this information to build a diagnosis and order additional testing. They could potentially recommend you to an oncologist or a surgeon.

Confirming Diagnosis

A CT, PET, or MRI scan’s imaging results aid surgeons in planning a biopsy to gather tissue and confirm a cell type and mesothelioma diagnosis. Furthermore, a  mesothelioma diagnosis can’t be made solely based on a radiology scan or a blood test.

People with a known history of asbestos exposure are more likely to have their primary care physician refer them to a mesothelioma specialist sooner. In order to receive mesothelioma testing that leads to a diagnosis, you must accurately present your work history, medical history, and symptoms to the doctor.

Before beginning treatment for an illness, oncologists and general physicians must confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for Mesothelioma can’t begin until a correct diagnosis has been established by imaging and biopsy results.

Treating Mesothelioma

Speaking to your main doctor about your health history, symptoms, and asbestos exposure is the first step toward getting diagnosed and tested for Mesothelioma.

If you are experiencing mesothelioma symptoms, your doctor performs a physical examination to look for any odd indicators. Imaging scans, such as CT and MRI scans, are often used in mesothelioma testing to detect malignant lesions and cancer cells.

The only way to verify a mesothelioma diagnosis is to perform a biopsy, such as a thoracoscopy and pleural aspiration. Measuring therapy response with mesothelioma blood testing is also done by doctors.

Medical History and Physical Exam

Mesothelioma is rare cancer that is challenging to detect. When ordering mesothelioma testing, the more information your doctor has about your symptoms, medical history, and asbestos exposure. The better informed they are. During a physical examination, your doctor may use special instruments or gadgets to look for disease indicators all over your body.

  • Laryngoscopy: A slightly more intrusive treatment involves examining the neck and vocal folds with the use of a tiny camera attached to a flexible, thin arm introduced via the mouth or nose. This treatment can rule out cancers of the upper respiratory tract or throat.

  • Stethoscope: A physician uses a stethoscope to listen to the abdomen, lungs, and heart. This test can detect particular indications of Mesothelioma, such as ascites (fluid in the belly) or pleural effusion (buildup of fluid in the chest).

  • Stress Tests: To narrow down the diagnosis for suitable testing, your doctor might assess your reflexes or ask you to conduct simple exercises. Stress testing can tell your doctor if mesothelioma cancer affects your heart rate or oxygen levels.

Imaging Tests

Radiologists use imaging tests to determine the size and location of mesothelioma tumors. These scans are accurate and thorough enough to figure out the stage and extent of cancer. Plus, it sees if cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. PET-CT scans with contrast dyes are the “gold standard” for mesothelioma imaging.

Oral contrast, which the patient drinks before the test, or IV contrast, which is injected into a vein, are used in contrast dye scans such as an MRI and PET. The majority of imaging examinations are painless and take only a few minutes. Because of the confined room and strong noise, an MRI can take between 30 and 90 minutes and induce anxiety in some people.

Mesothelioma Biomarkers and Blood Tests

SOMAmer and MESOMARK are two blood tests that can detect indications of Mesothelioma. Biomarkers, blood tests, and immunohistochemical markers for Mesothelioma are not precise enough to confirm a diagnosis. These tests are used by doctors to rule out other illnesses and track therapy responses.

Blood tests identify mesothelin, a protein prevalent in healthy people but detected in increased concentrations in the blood when Mesothelioma is evident. The FDA-approved MESOMARK test, for instance, can identify soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs).

More than 1,000 proteins can be detected in blood serum with the SOMAmer test. These proteins may be useful in determining whether or not someone has Mesothelioma. Human MPF is a test that examines a protein referred to as megakaryocyte potentiation factor. The specificity and sensitivity of these tests determine their precision.

The SOMAmer mesothelioma blood test properly diagnosed 90% of patients during testing. This sensitivity is critical since a blood test must precisely anticipate disease to be useful.

Blood tests for Mesothelioma are also subjected to sensitivity testing. MESOMARK, for instance, correctly predicted that 92% of healthy people didn’t have Mesothelioma. However, this data is insufficient to reliably predict or diagnose Mesothelioma using blood tests. Blood tests with greater specificity and sensitivity are currently being developed.

How to Prepare for a Mesothelioma Diagnosis Appointment

Depending on the method, there are numerous steps to preparing for a mesothelioma test such as an imaging scan or biopsy. Prior to your diagnostic session, your provider will go through any dietary restrictions with you. It’s also a good idea to double-check how and when you’ll be checking your results. Some tests, such as a mesothelioma biopsy, can take up to two weeks to produce results, but blood test results can be obtained almost instantly.

Why Is it a Challenge to Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an uncommon and challenging disease to diagnose. Since many oncologists and general practitioners have never seen Mesothelioma or are unfamiliar with the disease’s complexities, diagnosing it can be difficult.

Asbestos-related cancers, such as Mesothelioma, can take up to 20 years to form, and the symptoms might be confused with various other conditions. In most situations, only a professional can provide an early mesothelioma diagnosis, prompt treatment, and a better prognosis.

Misdiagnosis

Mesothelioma is frequently misdiagnosed as a less serious disease or another malignancy. The first signs of Mesothelioma can be mistaken for lung cancer, heart problems, stomach cancer, or an infectious disease such as pneumonia. Ovarian cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, or colon cancer can all be misdiagnosed as peritoneal Mesothelioma.

Staging Mesothelioma

Staging mesothelioma is an essential yet difficult element of the diagnosis. Moreover, staging determines how far a person’s cancer has progressed and is the most crucial component in selecting which mesothelioma treatment is the best for them.

Clinical staging determines a preliminary stage based on the person’s physical exam, symptoms, and radiological findings. Surgical staging necessitates the collection of solid tissue samples but results in a clear diagnosis. Staging also aids in determining a patient’s prognosis for Mesothelioma.

Suppose a PET scan or CT scan reveals tumor progression to other organs throughout clinical staging, commonly known as metastatic illness or late-stage Mesothelioma. In that case, a needle biopsy can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Latency Period

Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, which means it can take decades for people to notice symptoms. Because people may not recognize they are unwell unless they have a clear record of asbestos exposure, early diagnosis is challenging.

Patients may forget or refuse to disclose their asbestos exposure history. As a result, their doctor may overlook Mesothelioma as a probable diagnosis. This misunderstanding could result in a delay in diagnosis, enabling cancer cells to develop untreated.

Prognosis

When a doctor diagnoses Mesothelioma, they might also explain the patient’s prognosis. A prognosis predicts how well a patient will respond to treatment. After the initial diagnosis, many doctors may speculate on prognosis, while others may wait to see how the patient responds to the first course of treatment.

Since each case is different, doctors find it difficult to forecast how Mesotheliomaso will act in a person’s body. Doctors determine a patient’s prognosis based on the location, stage, and cell type of Mesothelioma, the person’s age and overall condition.

What to Do After Being Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

After being diagnosed with Mesothelioma, Mesothelioma can start treatment to help extend their lives and enhance their chances of survival. Seeking a mesothelioma specialist guarantees you access to the most sophisticated treatment choices and resources available.

Patients who have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma might find it hard to accept their diagnosis. Understanding the treatment course and alternatives for hospice, palliative care, and other services requires a robust support system.

Get a Second Opinion

Suppose a practitioner or general oncologist has diagnosed you with Mesothelioma. The next step in to obtain a second opinion from a mesothelioma expert. A second opinion is necessary to ensure that you have obtained an accurate diagnosis and accessibility to all treatment choices available.

Doctors and treatment centers examine your mesothelioma blood tests, medical history, biopsies, and imaging to confirm your diagnosis and start a specific treatment plan. Innovative medicines and clinical trials are available through cancer centers and doctors specializing in Mesothelioma.

Develop A Mesothelioma Plan

Another essential stage is to comprehend your treatment strategy fully. This is something you should address with your doctor in detail. Talk to your oncologist if any component of your mesothelioma treatment plan makes you worried or puzzled.

Mesothelioma professionals comprehend the link between staging, diagnosis, and treatment options for metastatic illness, such as clinical trials or early-stage surgery. Inquire about complementary therapies and palliative care for side effects. Acupressure and massages, for instance, may aid with chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Get Support

Create a mesothelioma support group to assist you, and your loved ones cope with the disease. Make contact with friends, family, neighbors, and community members. When you’ve been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you need a Mesothelioma attorney experienced in the system to help you get through the difficult times.

Families, patients, and carers can join a monthly online support group hosted by the Mesothelioma Center to share their stories and support one another as they cope with their diagnosis.


Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline in Tuxedo

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.


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