Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused from asbestos exposure, a mineral that was used extensively in practically anything for its heat-resistant properties. After the dangers of asbestos were known, its use has been strictly regulated. Unfortunately, plenty of damage has already done and mesothelioma has a latency period of 20-50 years, making seniors the primary demographic diagnosed.
How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Doctors use several methods to test for mesothelioma, however a biopsy is the only true way to confirm a diagnosis. This usually comes after a series of other tests and scans once symptoms arise. Since mesothelioma is a rare disease it is not uncommon for it to be misdiagnosed as the flu or pneumonia.
Anyone who believes to be or knows they were exposed to asbestos at some point in time, should immediately notify their primary care doctor about their exposure history. This will ensure mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are not ruled out as the cause of the symptoms.
Most people initially undergo a basic chest X-ray. If an abnormal growth is detected, doctors will recommend a more detailed imaging scan such as a PET scan, CT scan or MRI.
Blood tests are also available, but they do not confirm the presence of mesothelioma. Research is underway to determine if blood tests can aid in early diagnosis for at-risk former asbestos workers.
If cancer is suspected, doctors will recommend taking a biopsy or a sample of tissue. Biopsies can confirm mesothelioma cancer cells.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
The leading treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Many specialists prefer to combine two or more of these treatments, which is an approach known as multimodal therapy. Numerous studies show this approach improves survival rates.
Surgery can be used for diagnostic or aggressive and potentially curative purposes. It offers the best chance of long-term survival for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients eligible for surgery.
Chemotherapy can alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life and extend survival, but it can carry unpleasant side effects.
With fewer side effects than chemotherapy, radiation can help shrink tumors and relieve pain. It can be performed at all stages.
o Multimodal Treatment
A combination of two or more traditional treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Studies show multimodal therapy can improve survival.
Heated or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a multimodal treatment that involves heating chemotherapy drugs and delivering them to the abdomen after surgery.
For more information visit The Mesothelioma Center. They are a 100% free resource center for those suffering from mesothelioma and their families. They have the most up-to-date information on asbestos and mesothelioma as well as offer 1-1 consultation with their Patient Advocates who will help find local treatment centers, doctors, and support groups.