If you were exposed to asbestos and you think you have symptoms of mesothelioma, this is a scary time. There are certain things you should do to get the medical treatment and care you need. Once your health is stabilized, it may be recommended to talk to a licensed mesothelioma attorney to determine if you are eligible for compensation in a lawsuit.
Below are the steps that you should follow if you think you have mesothelioma.
If you are showing signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, such as a dry cough, pain in the back and chest, and difficulty and pain while breathing, your healthcare provider will conduct a physical examination to check for signs of cancer.
Your physician may order X-rays, a CT, or MRI of your chest and abdomen to look for mesothelioma tumors. Based on these scans, your doctor may have you undergo more testing to determine if mesothelioma or another cancer is causing your health problem. (Mayoclinic.org).
A biopsy is a procedure to remove a small sample of the tumor to be examined in a laboratory. This is the most precise way to determine if you have mesothelioma. Depending on the body area affected, your physician will choose one of several biopsy options:
- Inserting a small needle through your skin: Your physician might take out fluid or a piece of tissue with a small needle inserted into the abdomen or chest.
- Collecting a tissue sample during surgery., A tissue or fluid sample could be obtained with a minor procedure where the surgeon could make a small cut and insert a tube with a tiny camera to see inside the abdomen or chest. Special tools are used to collect the tissue sample.
The tissue sample is checked under a microscope to see if the tissue is mesothelioma and the cell type involved.
Determine the Extent of the Mesothelioma Cancer
Once it is confirmed you have mesothelioma, your physician may recommend more tests to understand if the cancer has gone to your lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Tests may include:
- CT scans of abdomen and chest
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
Your doctor will use the information from the tests he orders to assign your mesothelioma a stage. The stage of pleural (lung) mesothelioma is indicated from I to IV. A lower number means the cancer is probably localized in the area around one of the lungs. The highest number means the cancer has metastasized to other parts of your body. (Cancer.org).
Which treatments you undergo for your asbestos cancer depends on your health and details of your cancer, such as location, stage, and cell-type.
For most patients, mesothelioma is aggressive, and a cure is out of reach. Most cases of asbestos cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage 4 when it is impossible to remove the tumors with surgery. Instead, your physician might work with you to control the disease, so you are more comfortable.
It is vital to discuss your treatment goals with your doctor. Some want to use every option to treat their cancer, even if that means enduring painful side effects for a small improvement. Others want treatments that make them more comfortable so they can live what time they have left in comfort.
Surgeons will try to remove as much of the mesothelioma tumors as they can at an early stage. In a few cases, this can even cure mesothelioma. But most of the time, it is not possible to take out all of the cancer. Some of the most common surgical options are:
- Decrease buildup of fluid. Pleural mesothelioma often causes fluid to build in the chest. This makes it difficult to breathe. The surgeon will insert a tube into the chest to remove the fluid. Your doctor could inject a drug into the chest to prevent the fluid from coming back. This is called pleurodesis.
- Remove tissue around the lungs. The surgeon can remove tissue that lines the ribs and lungs. This procedure does not cure mesothelioma, but it can relieve symptoms.
- Remove the lung and surrounding tissue. Taking out the affected tissue and lung could relieve the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. If you are getting radiation therapy to your chest after your surgery, this procedure lets doctors use higher doses of radiation as they do not need to worry about protecting your lung from radiation.
Chemotherapy uses several drugs to kill mesothelioma cancer cells. Chemotherapy injected into the bloodstream travels in the body and can shrink or kill mesothelioma cells that cannot be taken out with surgery. Chemotherapy can be used before the operation to make the surgery easier. Chemotherapy can also be used after the surgery to lower the chance of mesothelioma coming back.
Chemotherapy drugs can be heated and placed directly into the abdominal cavity in the case of peritoneal mesothelioma.
Radiation focuses on high-energy beams from X-rays and protons to specific areas to kill the remaining cancer cells. It also can reduce symptoms and signs of cancer where surgery is not possible.
Mesothelioma cancer is aggressive, hard to treat, and the prognosis is poor. However, the American Cancer Society reports the following five-year survival statistics for all types of mesothelioma: (Cancer.org)
- Stage I: 21 months
- Stage II: 19 months
- Stage III: 16 months
- Stage IV: 12 months
The Abramson Cancer Center also reports the overall mesothelioma survival rate is four to 18 months after diagnosis. That cancer center states the current five-year survival rate for all stages of mesothelioma is only 10 months. (Pennmedicine.org).
The best chance you have to live longer with mesothelioma is to be diagnosed as early on as possible. If you think you were exposed to asbestos, you should undergo yearly physicals to check for any signs of asbestos-related diseases.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help
With over $30 billion available for victims through the Asbestos Trust Funds, you could be entitled to financial mesothelioma victim compensations without ever filing a lawsuit? Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll free (800) 352-0871