What Are Some Common Mesothelioma Diagnosis Issues?
July 3, 2017 | Mesothelioma
Cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses, affecting as many as 1.3 million Americans each year. In most cases, the doctor either fails to identify cancer altogether or fails to diagnose the right kind of cancer. Lots of doctors miss lung cancer in general, and mesothelioma in particular.
Perhaps more so than other types of this illness, many physicians basically see lung cancer as a lifestyle disease, so if the patient does not smoke, doctors usually do not diagnose lung cancer. Instead, to explain common pericardial mesothelioma symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath, they blame common upper respiratory conditions that are essentially serious viral or bacterial infections, such as asthma, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs) is a common misdiagnosis as well. That’s especially true if the patient also complains of pain or tightness in that area, since the symptoms mimic mesothelioma to a very high degree.
Furthermore, since mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of a rare disease, like Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. NSCLC makes up almost 90 percent of lung cancer cases, and since that percentage is so high, many doctors do not run additional diagnostic tests after a preliminary biopsy report.
While quite serious, NSCLC is not very aggressive, so a relatively low-dose chemotherapy or radiation treatment is often appropriate in these cases. But that approach is often insufficient against a cancer that grows and spreads quickly, like mesothelioma. As a result, many times, the mesothelioma stage is already well advanced before it is properly diagnosed, which helps explain the high death rate in these cases.
Proper Diagnosis Procedures
The process begins with you. Since mesothelioma as so far removed from most doctors’ radars, patients must raise their own red flags. Before you see the doctor, go back and reconstruct your steps for the last twenty or thirty years. If you lived or worked at or near any construction or renovation site any time during that period, tell your doctor, because mesothelioma can take twenty or more years to develop.
Homework assignments like this one are not easy to complete and, properly speaking, not your area of concern, but the additional information could mean the difference between a prompt, correct diagnosis and more lost time.
To either confirm or rule out mesothelioma, the doctor should order a full battery of tests, including:
- Blood Marking: Analyzing blood samples from around the area of the body that’s most likely to contain cancer cells is a good way to determine if there are any cancer cells present, even if the tumor is quite small.
- Imaging: Reliable instruments like X-ray machines and CT scans are still the best way to find tumors and growths, especially around the heart and lungs.
- Biopsy: The final step is to examine a blood or tissue sample.
If after all these tests the doctor still insists that you do not have mesothelioma, that conclusion may be correct, but given the extremely high misdiagnosis rate, it’s still a good idea to get a second opinion. If the doctor seems offended or becomes defensive, there is even more reason to talk to another doctor. It may even be a good idea to ask the doctor to run more tests.
Misdiagnosis and Damages
Time is critical in these cases, because the prognosis for mesothelioma is often rather grim. Delayed diagnosis drives the cost of treatment even higher, because the more advanced the mesothelioma is, the more aggressive (and the more costly) the treatment must be.
Since many health insurance plans do not cover injury-related conditions, and the uncovered costs are often prohibitive even if coverage is available, significant compensation is essential, and that means teaming up with an experienced New York mesothelioma lawyer.
An attorney can also connect you with a physician who is experienced in mesothelioma diagnosis and/or treatment cases. That connection gives you a critical edge when fighting this disease, which means that you may have longer to live after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma diagnosis is vitally important to successful treatment. For a free consultation with an experienced mesothelioma attoreny, contact us today.
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