A diagnosis of mesothelioma cannot be arrived at by a single physician’s visit, but rather it is a process that involves a series of visits to different physicians. Most people receive a mesothelioma diagnosis approximately two to three month after their symptoms first become severe. So what do you do if you’re experiencing symptoms that coincide with mesothelioma? The first and most important thing is to consult with a medical professional to confirm a diagnosis.
Normally a diagnosis of mesothelioma begins when you experience symptoms severe enough to seek the advice of a physician. It is crucial that you consult with a medical professional who will be able to look at your medical history, occupational history as well as any symptoms that you are experiencing. Because mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses, you could be misdiagnosed with a condition like pneumonia or lung cancer, at first. If you are still experiencing symptoms, be sure to go back to your doctor or seek a second opinion. Your doctor will order additional tests or refer you to a specialist who will then order a biopsy, MRI, CT scan and/or x-rays. When making a mesothelioma diagnosis, a biopsy and x-ray are usually the first tests that your physician will administer. If these tests don’t reveal anything definitive, more tests may be ordered which include MRI’s and/or CT scans. These tests are more specialized and can confirm a definitive mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis of mesothelioma has been made, your doctor will go over all the available treatment options with you. Depending on what kind of diagnosis your physician makes, you might be referred to a specific doctor like a pulmonologist, radiologist or specialized surgeon. Another specialist that you might be referred to is an asbestos-related disease expert. Generally, most physicians recommend a three-pronged plan when it comes to treating mesothelioma. These treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Besides these treatments, your doctor also might employ experimental options like immunotherapy, gene therapy or alternative medicine to address your mesothelioma. As with most cancers, early detection is the key to long-term survival. An early mesothelioma diagnosis can increase viable treatment options as well as your life expectancy.
Mesothelioma prognosis generally is grim because following discovery of the disease, doctor and patient will learn it is usually in an advanced state. Some people will live longer than others with the disease, dependent on a number of factors including the stage of disease at time of diagnosis, site of the tumor and the overall health of the patient. In the end, it is important that you learn everything you can about mesothelioma, so you can be better equipped in understanding the disease. Remember, receiving an early diagnosis of mesothelioma, followed by proper treatment is your best approach in fighting this dreaded disease.