Diagnosing mesothelioma is difficult for many reasons. A patient may visit a doctor complaining of symptoms that he or she does not believe are related to cancer, but the patient is then told that he or she has an incurable disease. These symptoms may also be mistaken for other conditions, which may cause a missed or delayed diagnosis and prevent the patient from receiving proper treatment as soon as possible.
When considering a patient's symptoms, a doctor needs to take into account many factors, including:
A number of imaging, fluid and tissue tests are also used to further determine what other factors are present.
If a doctor, pulmonologist or oncologist suspects an asbestos-related disease, there are a number of tests that can help diagnose the condition. Imaging tests, such as chest X-rays, CT scans, PET scans and MRI scans can help determine the nature of the cancer and whether the cancer is benign or malignant.
Fluid and tissue tests, also referred to as biopsy tests, are used to determine if cancer cells are present. These tests include fine needle aspiration (to detect the buildup of fluid), thoracoscopy (to examine the chest), bronchoscopy and laparoscopy (to examine the airway and to obtain tissues from inside the lungs), and mediastinoscopy (to determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes).
Blood tests may also be used in earlier stages, but they are not as conclusive as imaging, fluid and tissue tests, since elevated levels of certain biomarkers do not necessarily mean cancer is present.
For more information regarding the diagnosis of mesothelioma and to get the answers you need, contact the San Francisco/Bay Area attorneys at Kaiser Gornick LLP.