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Can doctors detect mesothelioma early enough to treat?

One of the most tragic things about mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness is the life expectancy after a patient receives a diagnosis. Typically, patients with this type of cancer live for only a year or so after diagnosis. However, most experts on mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses agree that early diagnosis is critical. Unfortunately, making a diagnosis early enough to extend life is often difficult for doctors.

At this time, no early screening test for asbestos-related cancers exists. This means that by the time a person experiences symptoms of the illness, he or she is already quite sick. Some specialists who diagnose and treat mesothelioma and asbestos-related illness have been able to extend a patient's life up to five years, but again, early diagnosis is crucial.

People in which risk factors such as known exposure to asbestos exist could receive a diagnosis early enough to extend their lives by up to five years. This might be achieved by undergoing regular CT (computed tomography) scans and/or chest x-rays to identify changes in the patient's lungs.

Another early detection method that shows promise is testing a potential patient's blood for certain substances. These substances include osteopontin and SMRPs (soluble mesothelin-related peptides), which often appear at high levels in mesothelioma patients. However, it is important to note that neither the imaging tests nor the blood tests can offer a definitive early diagnosis of mesothelioma or asbestos-related illness.

Mesothelioma is a fatal illness, which means that patients in Illinois and across the nation cannot expect to live a long life. What they can do is talk with an attorney about their legal rights and options as quickly as possible. This may help acquire the funds required for medical treatment and to make sure their families remain cared for in the aftermath of the illness.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Can Malignant Mesothelioma Be Found Early?," accessed Oct. 04, 2017

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