Like all forms of cancer, mesothelioma needs to be diagnosed as early as possible in order to maximize the effectiveness of treatment. Unfortunately, many people with this disease face a series of obstacles on the road to diagnosis. One problem is the long latency period of mesothelioma; it can develop for years or decades before a sudden onset of symptoms. There is also the medical challenge of distinguishing between mesothelioma and other diseases with similar symptoms.
The good news is that researchers are working every day to develop more efficient and reliable methods of mesothelioma diagnosis. If your doctor suspects that you may be suffering from peritoneal, pericardial, or pleural mesothelioma, he or she may recommend some or all of the tests described below. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, it is vital to tell him or her about this fact.
Methods of Testing for Mesothelioma
It has often been said that diagnosing mesothelioma is more of an art than a science. To make an accurate diagnosis, doctors usually need to rely on a series of medical tests, each of which provides a different piece of the puzzle. This is especially true for complex diseases like cancer, including mesothelioma.
Blood Tests: Blood tests are a relatively new way to diagnose mesothelioma. Doctors have discovered that mesothelioma causes unique proteins, known as molecular markers, to enter into the bloodstream. These markers can be used to diagnose mesothelioma and track its progress.
- X-Rays: Diagnosing a tumor of almost any kind usually involves a series of x-rays. These will let the doctors evaluate your chest or abdomen to see if a mass has begun to grow. X-rays are usually only preliminary tests, requiring more complex testing methods to follow.
- CT Scans: Computed tomography (CT) technology is similar to an x-ray, but creates a more detailed three-dimensional picture. CT scans can be used to initially find a cancerous growth, or to monitor a patient over the course of his or her treatment.
- PET Scans: Positron emission tomography is an imaging technique that involves injecting a mildly radioactive tracer into the bloodstream. This tracer is monitored as it progresses through the body, allowing doctors to observe internal functions. For mesothelioma patients, this process is often used to distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is a very common procedure in cancer diagnosis. It involves removing a portion of a bodily growth so that the tissue can be closely examined. This procedure is used to determine whether masses in the body are cancerous or have other causes.
- New Techniques: Mesothelioma diagnosis methods are constantly being updated and refined. New methods for conducting blood tests, biopsies, and other procedures are allowing doctors to gain faster and more reliable results.
If your doctor has recommended tests for mesothelioma, do not panic. Most of these tests are completely pain-free or only entail minimal discomfort. If you are concerned about the side effects of a certain procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to minimize them.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the asbestos lawyers of Williams Kherkher today by calling 800-781-3955 today.