80-year-old deceased mesothelioma victim (Florida resident) who was exposed to asbestos through his work for several decades as a water sewer-works pipe layer and fitter
It is important to talk with an medical professional if you believe you have symptoms of mesothelioma. This rare, potentially deadly cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Until the 1980s when asbestos was finally banned from U.S. manufacturing, many were exposed to large quantities of asbestos in their workplaces.
Even today, construction workers and others working around pre-1980s products could be exposed to asbestos. It is important to speak with your doctor if you or a loved one has been exposed.
Doctors can use various tests to diagnose mesothelioma, in addition to a thorough physical. These tests vary in effectiveness.
A tissue biopsy involves removing a sample of a suspicious area to be tested for risk of cancer in a laboratory. It is a very common form of cancer testing.
Doctors utilize three different types of biopsies to confirm or eliminate the possibility of mesothelioma:
Cytology is the section of pathology dealing with diagnoses of conditions and diseases based on the study of cells based on tissue samples. In a traditional biopsy, a sample of tissue up to several inches long is taken. Cytology specimens are typically much smaller and may consist of as little as a single drop of tissue fluid or blood. These samples are used for diagnosis and screening purposes.
A cytology specimen can reveal mesothelioma before symptoms have begun, which is important for two reasons:
There are many benefits in favor of cytology screenings:
However, cytology is not has accurate as a traditional biopsy. It’s important to speak with your doctor about your individual needs and what is best for you.
PET scans are most effective tools for staging the development of the mesothelioma and determining how effective treatment will be. Images from a PET scan will show metastasizing or malignant mesothelioma tumors, including developing cancer on the lymph nodes. This form of imaging can be used to determine if chemotherapy or other forms of treatment are working.
A computed tomography scan (CT scan or CAT scan) is a three-dimensional image of the inside of your body. An X-ray takes one image, but a CT scan compiles numerous cross-sectional pictures that are then combined by a computer to create a fuller picture. It provides views of any unusual, abnormal, or concerning growths, including cancer.
For pleural mesothelioma, CT scans are the preferred test, as these images can pick up evidence of pleural thickening.
Mesomark is a tool that can be used in diagnosing and monitoring the development of mesothelioma. It is a blood test that measures soluble mesothelin-related peptides or SMRPs, in an individual’s blood. SMRPs can be used as a telltale sign of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Mesomark is available commercially and was the first blood serum-based test designed with mesothelioma sensitivity to receive approval from the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Not all mesothelioma tumors release SMRPs. For this reason, doctors typically will use a secondary form of testing in conjunction with the Mesomark test, as per FDA recommendations. Mesomark can also be effective in staging mesothelioma.
In addition to SMRPs, other biomarkers that may be used by a doctor to monitor mesothelioma include:
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not become apparent until as much as 50 years post-exposure. The important thing is to make sure that you are taking action to protect your health. Diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult. Other, common forms of cancer can easily be mistaken for mesothelioma. You should be sure to tell your doctor about your history of asbestos exposure so that your doctor is aware of the option of mesothelioma from the start.
Doctors use four stages to determine the progression of mesothelioma cancer and its severity:
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