Commonly caused by asbestos particles, mesothelioma affects the mesothelium, the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. It commonly shows in people in Tennessee who have worked with asbestos in certain industries, such as shipbuilding, construction and insulation. Diagnosing the disease can be tricky since it often mimics other diseases, but it has some common symptoms.
The doctor may conduct several tests based on age, location of the cancer and type of cancer. They usually ask the patients questions about their symptoms, their family’s history of the disease and possible risk factors that could have exposed them to asbestos.
Doctors commonly do a biopsy to detect cancer by removing a small portion of the infected tissue. A CT scan snaps a picture at various angles inside the body using X-rays and processes the images in cross-sections on a computer. An MRI applies strong magnetic fields without X-rays to get detailed scans of the organs. Other tests could include lung function tests, blood tests, PET scans and X-rays.
Signs and treatment
Mesothelioma is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms may not show for decades, and signs also vary between types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lung lining, which could cause chest pain, trouble swallowing, coughing with or without blood and hoarseness. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the abdomen and may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling and constipation.
Pericardial mesothelioma occurs in the heart, and it could cause chest pain, irregular heart rhythms and heart murmurs. Some general signs include fatigue, clotting issues, weight loss, loss of appetite and shortness of breath because of the lining thickening.
In the early stages, some treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove the tumor. However, by the time most people get diagnosed, it is usually in advanced stages, which eliminates surgery as an option.
Mesothelioma patients have the right to seek worker’s compensation from the job they believe exposed them. An attorney may be able to help them prove their case.