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Is diagnosing mesothelioma difficult?

If you’ve worked in a job that exposed you to asbestos, you may already know the risk for mesothelioma. But when the disease takes years to show up, how do doctors know whether or not you have it?

Mesothelioma is a rare disease. And many different illnesses have similar symptoms. To diagnose patients, doctors must perform multiple tests to confirm mesothelioma in the lungs.

Doctors need many tests before diagnosing mesothelioma

When you first go in with symptoms, a doctor will try to see if you have signs of asbestos exposure. X-rays can show if you have a buildup of calcium or fluid in your lung’s lining. But these symptoms can also appear for many other illnesses.

To diagnose for mesothelioma, doctors will need to do a biopsy of tissue in your lungs. They will usually do a computed tomography, or CT, scan on your chest. This scan shows them which areas are most affected. They then take a tissue sample from the lining of your lungs to test it for mesothelioma.

Doctors must rule out many different illnesses

Since symptoms for mesothelioma can be the same as other illnesses, doctors may take time to diagnose you. And once you have your diagnosis, they must then figure out which stage you are in. Your treatment depends on how much the cancer has spread in your body.

Exposure to asbestos can mean you need a specialist

When you have symptoms like shortness of breath or a cough that won’t go away, you should let your doctor know about your history with asbestos. Since you have a high risk of mesothelioma, you may need a lung specialist to diagnose you. And since very few people have the disease, you may want someone who knows what to look for.

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