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More than 80 percent of mesothelioma patients have worked with asbestos products for extended periods of time. However, many of them don't realize it, as the disease takes anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop. Plus, the condition presents with symptoms that aren't specific to mesothelioma, meaning they are often confused for other conditions. For those reasons, getting an accurate diagnosis is imperative.
Patients with mesothelioma may complain about having shortness of breath, chest pain, sudden weight loss, or coughing. Others have muscle weakness, low iron levels in their blood, and even fluid in the heart or abdomen. Still others trouble breathing or have swelling in the face and arms, pain in the lower back, and hoarseness. Night sweats, nausea, vomiting, low blood sugar, and problems with bowel function are common, too.
As noted, the problem lies in that these symptoms may lead doctors to consider other conditions as opposed to mesothelioma. However, when doctors realize that a patient has also had exposure to asbestos, the symptoms instead point toward this cancer. To confirm, doctors will order a series of tests.
Doctors will start by analyzing a patient's medical history before performing a physical examination, which may include blood tests. Then, they generally use imaging tests and x-rays. These MRIs and tomographies take computerized pictures of your organs and help doctors see if the cancer has spread.
A biopsy may be also needed to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis. With this procedure, a doctor removes samples of fluid or tissue from the affected area and sends it to be tested in a laboratory.
With these tests, and telling your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos, doctors have a better chance of diagnosing mesothelioma early, when more treatment options are available.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this condition, you will need detailed information on how to reach the top mesothelioma doctors throughout the country. To find out how to do so, use the form on this page to request a packet containing loads of valuable information. We will help you find whatever answers you need, whether they are medical or legal.
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