Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an uncommon cancer which occurs in the protective lining of the heart, abdomen, lungs, and sometimes the testes. There are four types of mesothelioma cancer including, peritoneal, pleural, pericardial, and testicular. There is a strong connection between the development of mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos. The majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer were exposed to asbestos in occupational settings either by inhaling or ingesting asbestos dust and particle fibers. There is also a strong relationship between handling asbestos covered clothing and the development of mesothelioma cancer. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is commonly employed in construction, shipyard, and other industrial settings because of its heat resistant and fire retardant properties. It is found in products like cement, roof shingles, textiles, insulation, flooring, and gaskets. The use of asbestos is regulated in most western countries although, in the United States, asbestos products are still used in some industries. Diagnosing mesothelioma cancer is difficult as symptoms may not appear until many years after exposure to asbestos. Individuals who work in occupational settings where they are exposed to asbestos are advised to receive regular chest x-rays and pulmonary tests. Symptoms of mesothelioma cancers include night sweats, fever, weight loss, and fatigue. In addition, there are symptoms which occur in specific forms of mesothelioma. Indications of pleural mesothelioma cancer include dry cough, coughing blood, dysphagia, difficulty breathing, and abnormal lumps on the chest. Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer symptoms include abnormal growths on the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and irregular bowel movements. Indications of pericardial mesothelioma cancer include irregular heartbeat, chest pains, and difficulty breathing. Testicular mesothelioma cancer is highly unusual and difficult to detect. The only obvious indicators are the appearance of irregular lumps on the testes. Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed using x-ray and other diagnostic and radiology imaging procedures. In addition, a biopsy of tissue in the afflicted area is used to confirm a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis. Treatment of mesothelioma commonly includes radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. Current research continues to produce promising new developments in mesothelioma cancer treatment. For people diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are support groups, and professionals available to help, including doctors, lawyers, and patient advocates. Living with an asbestos-related cancer is a challenge. With early diagnosis, intervention, and support, successful treatment of mesothelioma is possible.