If you have had exposure to asbestos laced products, do not wait until it is too late to get screened for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer and doctors are unable to access many viable treatment options because of the inability of scientists and experts in the medical field to study the disease. It takes decades to develop in most cases and it is a silent killer due to the fact that it progresses without the patient’s knowledge. By the time symptoms begin to show, it has normally developed into an advanced stage.
Minor or Nonexistent Symptoms Make Mesothelioma Difficult to Detect
Patients with mesothelioma may visit the doctor with flu-like symptoms that do not go away with treatment over a long period of time. It often takes months for doctors to come to the determination that something more severe is at play and by the time the patient is tested for mesothelioma; the cancer has had a long time to advance and spread. This is exacerbated by the fact that mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer and the window of time that doctors have to treat the patient is very small.
Many patients show no symptoms of the cancer at all until it has progressed to its worst stage and when symptoms are finally exhibited, they are minor and easily confused as other conditions. Once mesothelioma has reached stage three or four, it begins to progress rapidly and patients’ health diminishes greatly over the following months. Only four out of ten people diagnosed with mesothelioma live another twelve months.
Limited Treatment Options
Researchers are currently trying to understand mesothelioma and develop treatment methods that can slow the spread of the disease and target the cancerous cells. However, there are less than 3,000 occurrences of mesothelioma in the United States each year, which has given scientists very limited access to patients with the rare cancer. Current mesothelioma patients have access to a wide range of experimental procedures if they wish to participate, but there are few options available aside those which have an unknown chance of success or failure.
If the cancer is contained and has not had the opportunity to spread, doctors may attempt to operate in order to prevent the cancer from metastasizing. Mesothelioma is known to spread throughout the body very quickly and if it is discovered before it has had the opportunity to spread, surgery may be the most logical answer. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation and the final treatment plan will include a combination of the three options in most cases.
Prevention and Detection
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos in the air should be aware of the risk they have of developing mesothelioma and should be screened regularly. Patients do not need to be symptomatic in order to have the disease and early detection is important in preventing the spread of the disease. Many patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have cancer in other areas of the body as well because the disease is so quick to move to other organs. Even if you don’t feel sick at all, you should take every precaution possible in order to detect the development of an asbestos related disease if you were exposed to it over a prolonged period of time. The decision to get tested regularly could be what saves your life.
Special thanks to Attorney John Yannone for his contribution.