How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Mesothelioma (or meso) is a fatal cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Most of those diagnosed come to their doctor because of the symptoms, whether or not they know it may be meso. You may also be diagnosed if you see your physician for another reason, and while trying to find the cause, they discover you have meso.
What Steps are Needed to Get a Diagnosis?
As part of the process, if you might have pleural mesothelioma (cancer of your lung’s lining), your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray or a computerized tomography (CT) scan of your chest. If you have meso, you’ll get abnormal results. The next step is finding out why.
You will probably have a biopsy of the affected tissue. This is a surgical procedure to remove a piece of tissue (a needle may also be used to get a sample). A pathologist will examine a very thin slice of the tissue under a microscope. They would also determine what type of meso you have.
How Do I Find Out Where the Meso’s Located?
After the meso diagnosis is confirmed, you may have more tests to understand how far the disease has spread. You may have the following done:
- CT scans of the chest and abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A radiologist will interpret the findings and create a report.
If you’re not seeing an oncologist by now, your physician should refer you to one. Oncologists specialize in treating cancer. That physician will determine which stage you’re in, which generally describes how far the meso has spread. This will impact your treatment plan and prognosis (what outcome and life span you should expect).
Pleural mesothelioma stages use Roman numerals ranging from I to IV. The lower the number, the less it’s spread (or metastasized). Depending on the stage, it’s also described as A or B, which classifies where the cancer’s located.
What Should I Do After My Diagnosis?
Meso has no cure, but treatment may extend your life. After the disease is diagnosed and staged, your oncologist will come up with a treatment plan. You could see other oncologists to get their input and treatment suggestions as well. After that, you must decide whether to be treated and if so, how and where.
Depending on where you live, you may receive standard care nearby or travel to a more advanced cancer center offering something different. They may offer to put you on a trial using an experimental drug or combination of drugs. How you’re treated and where may be affected by your health insurance.
If you’re still working, you could continue to do so as long as you can, but treatment and the disease’s aggressive progress) may force you to stop. You may qualify for private disability insurance and you should also qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
In addition to the medical, professional, and financial impacts of meso, there are also emotional and psychological effects. Ask your oncologist if there are support groups to help you and your caregiver (you may find one online). Talking to a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist may also help you during this very difficult time. Some dealing with meso find solace and meaning through religion. You should turn to whatever and whoever works best for you and your family.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC is Here to Help You and Your Family
Your meso was probably caused by asbestos. You may qualify for compensation that can provide financial help to you and your family now and in the future. We will work with your treatment team to document your condition, discuss your asbestos exposure to you, and submit a claim that might ease your financial burdens.