After 30 years of helping those diagnosed with mesothelioma, we felt this was an important question to address for two reasons: one, it is a commonly asked question and two, far too often mesothelioma is not caught as early as it could have been. We hope that providing this information will help inform clients so they can get the most accurate and early diagnosis as possible.
From diagnosis to treatment of mesothelioma, there are several situations when seeking a second opinion and/or asking for further diagnostic tests from your primary care physician may be in your best interest.
Mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases can be difficult to diagnose. If you have known prior exposure to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite and pain, you should of course see a doctor immediately. However some patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are not even aware they have had any exposure to asbestos, and don’t know to be on the lookout.
Other times, our clients have reported that they went to their primary doctor because they felt fatigued and were having respiratory symptoms. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma mimic other much less serious illnesses, such as the flu or pneumonia, doctors would misdiagnose for the wrong ailment and treat accordingly. After some time, the symptoms would persist, necessitating another visit to the primary care physician, who then would make a referral to a pulmonary specialist. Months later, the specialist would recognize certain risk factors and order an X-ray or CT scan, which would then reveal pleural effusion. Normal course of action with a pleural effusion is to drain and examine the fluid, which often does not reveal any malignancy. Then the effusion returns and a biopsy is finally ordered. From the biopsy results, the accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma is finally made.
Given that this is all too frequently the course of events that lead to a diagnosis, we strongly urge those who know they were exposed to asbestos in the past to immediately seek a second opinion or further tests from a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma if they start to experience any symptoms. Early diagnosis is essential for the best prognosis and wider treatment options.
If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, your doctor will explain the standard methods of treatment and may also discuss alternative mesothelioma treatments or clinical trials that you qualify for. If your doctor isn’t aware of any clinical trials or alternative treatments, you may want to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist. Because asbestos-related diseases are fatal, some moving more quickly than others, you want to make sure to make use of the best knowledge and treatment available, whether that knowledge and treatment comes from your original doctor or a doctor providing a second opinion.
Please feel free to call one of our attorneys at 1-800-440-4262 with any further questions you may have or to request a brochure that covers essential information you need to know about mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases.