How to Determine If You Have Mesothelioma|common mesothelioma symptoms
Mesothelioma is a tumor that affects the mesothelium (tissue lining your heart, lungs, and stomach). Mesothelioma can sometimes be benign, but its malignant form is a very serious cancer that requires immediate medical treatment. Malignant mesothelioma is most commonly associated with asbestos exposure, and so knowing your risk factors can be just as important as knowing the common mesothelioma symptoms. There are three kinds of mesothelioma: peritoneal mesothelioma (which affects the stomach), pericardial mesothelioma (which affects the heart), and pleural mesothelioma (which affects the lungs). There is also an extremely rare form of mesothelioma that can attack the testicles of male patients. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common.
Recognize that most mesothelioma cases are linked with asbestos. Most cases of mesothelioma have been linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber found in rocks, minerals, and soil. Because of its flame-retardant properties, it was used in a great deal of industrial manufacturing until 1971. Those who worked with asbestos were the most likely to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. If breathed in or swallowed, asbestos fibers can lead to fatal tumors.
Asbestos is much less common now than it was in the early and mid-20th century because of the known mesothelioma risks; however, it can still be found in some products and older buildings might still have asbestos in the insulation.
Mesothelioma can be caused by asbestos exposure that occurred 20 – 50 years previously. Even if you are no longer around asbestos, you might still be at risk for mesothelioma.
How to Determine If You Have Mesothelioma|Knowing the Symptoms for Mesothelioma
Be aware of your body. Most diagnoses of mesothelioma happen when a patient reports a symptom or a change in their body. Pay attention to your body and to your health so that you can report any significant changes to your doctor.
This is especially important if you might have been exposed to asbestos at any point in your life.
Recognize the symptoms for pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the lungs. This is the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for 75% of diagnoses. Asbestos fibers embed themselves in the tissues, leading the body to attack these tissues and develop serious tumors that can make it difficult to breathe normally. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
Shortness of breath
Pain underneath the ribs
Fatigue and exhaustion
Finding lumps in and beneath your chest tissue
How to Determine If You Have Mesothelioma|Getting Tested for Mesothelioma
See your doctor immediately. If you have known asbestos exposure and/or you experience symptoms of mesothelioma, make an immediate appointment with your physician. Mesothelioma is not a curable disease, but treatments can extend life and reduce pain. Treatments are most effective when provided early in the course of the illness.
Most likely your regular physician will see you for your initial appointment; however, it is possible that you will be sent to a lung specialist or stomach specialist immediately, depending on your symptoms
Provide your medical history. The first step in mesothelioma diagnosis is getting a full medical workup by a physician. If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, you will likely be asked about possible exposure to asbestos. Provide your doctor with information about your health history, work history, and the onset of symptoms. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications that you are currently taking as well as any recent life changes you have experience, especially unexplained weight loss .
Even if you are not sure whether you have been exposed to asbestos, tell your doctor if you work in one of the higher-risk professions for mesothelioma, such as construction, demolition, firefighting, industrial work, or in shipyards
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