Can Mesothelioma Be Detected Early?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It is often difficult to detect in its early stages, as it has no significant symptoms and is usually caught by accident when the doctor looks for another disease. Although there is no cure for any stage of mesothelioma, early detection of cancer, when it is small and before it has spread, often allows for more treatment options and improved outcomes. Unfortunately, due to the long latency period between the first exposure to asbestos and the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the disease is usually detected when it is already advanced.

This is compounded by the fact that the symptoms of mesothelioma can be confused with other, more common conditions. As a result, people may take their time to go to the doctor or ignore their symptoms altogether. The only way to detect mesothelioma in its early stages is to talk to your family doctor about your symptoms, past health, and exposure to asbestos. If you have a known history of exposure to asbestos, you are likely to receive a quicker referral to a mesothelioma specialist from your primary care physician.

Experienced mesothelioma specialists and treatment centers will review your medical history, blood tests, images and biopsies to confirm your diagnosis and begin a personalized treatment plan. In most cases, only a specialist can provide an early diagnosis of mesothelioma, timely treatment and a better prognosis. While there are many factors doctors consider in determining a patient's prognosis and life expectancy of mesothelioma, doctors, patients, and cancer advocates now emphasize the importance of early detection. The American Cancer Society reports that younger and physically fit patients have a higher mesothelioma life expectancy than their older counterparts when diagnosed with cancer.

This encourages Americans to lead a healthy lifestyle to combat mesothelioma. However, this restricts its use to a group of patients with an a priori probability of mesothelioma already higher than individuals exposed to asymptomatic asbestos.

Marissa Trafford
Marissa Trafford

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