A mesothelioma diagnosis is heartbreaking news. No question about it. Questions, however, will be asked of you to help confirm your mesothelioma diagnosis and pinpoint the source of your asbestos exposure. Because make no mistake about it, there is just one and only one cause of mesothelioma. And that cause is exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis Defined
What really is a mesothelioma diagnosis? It is the end result of a process determining without a doubt that mesothelioma is the cause of symptoms you are having. It begins with your primary care physician. If he or she gives you a preliminary mesothelioma diagnosis, you will then be sent to radiologists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, pulmonologists and other experts for more in-depth precise tests.
The key information needed for a mesothelioma diagnosis typically consists of two types of collected information about you:
- A history – These are the answers to questions you were asked about your symptoms and about what your health was like before you began having symptoms. Your occupation and where you worked will also be part of the history collected by your doctor if mesothelioma is suspected.
- A thorough physical examination – This is the physical part of your initial phase of medical care for a mesothelioma diagnosis. It will begin with your primary care doctor listening as you breathe, with a stethoscope, to get an idea about the health of your lungs. If your doctor thinks you may have mesothelioma then diagnostic lab tests with specialists will become part of the process.
Your doctor or doctors will compare standard diagnostic criteria for mesothelioma to all your symptoms and test results to make sure a mesothelioma diagnosis is the correct one for you. The standards are established by an international committee of medical experts.
Your doctor will also have to rule out other possible conditions with similar symptoms. This process involves identifying all of the possible diagnoses that could be connected to your symptoms and lab findings. This is important so you can get the official mesothelioma diagnosis you need to move forward with treatment and legal action. But it is also important to make sure you do not receive a mesothelioma diagnosis in error. This is especially necessary to explore with mesothelioma because many symptoms can be similar to other illnesses such as flu and pneumonia.
Why a Mesothelioma Diagnosis Is So Important
If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis it means you have been exposed to asbestos, likely without your knowledge or permission. The asbestos exposure most likely occurred on the job. Or at the job of a family member who then unknowingly brought asbestos dust into the home on their shoes, their clothes or their hair. Either way, if you have a mesothelioma diagnosis it means you may be eligible to receive a substantial amount of money in compensation from the company or companies responsible for the asbestos you were around.
But even if your doctor suspects that the symptoms you are having, such as shortness of breath and coughingare mesothelioma, you cannot file a lawsuit until you have an official mesothelioma diagnosis. Even if you distinctly can recall when and where you were exposed to asbestos, you will still need to wait for an official mesothelioma diagnosis before you initiate a lawsuit.
Why? Let’s say your neighbor calls you and says that underground roots from a tree on your front lawn have damaged their driveway. They say you need to give them $10,000 to resurface their driveway. Would you just hand over a check? Or would you first ask to see the allegedly damaged driveway and a written estimate from a licensed driveway contractor specifying how much it will cost to repair. You might even want to hire an arborist to confirm that it was your tree which indeed caused the damage.
Now multiply that $10,000 driveway repair cost into potentially millions of dollars you may stand to receive from the businesses that caused your mesothelioma. If you were those businesses, would you hand over millions of dollars without seeing any official proof that you actually have a mesothelioma diagnosis? And evidence that they are to blame? This is why it is an absolute must to get a mesothelioma diagnosis before you take any legal action.
And then there’s your medical insurance company to contend with. Time is of the essence with mesothelioma. You need to start treatment as soon as possible. Here too you need to have your mesothelioma diagnosis in hand. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer, and cancer treatment is costly. Your insurance company may balk at covering the cost of your treatment until you have an official mesothelioma diagnosis.
How to Get a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A mesothelioma diagnosis begins with you. You need to take stock of your symptoms and check whether they line up with the symptoms of mesothelioma.
In the early stages of mesothelioma, you may have no symptoms at all. You may have a small buildup of fluid between the lining of the lung and the chest cavity, called pleural effusion,that your doctor may detect during your annual physical.
Early mesothelioma symptoms can include a cough and shortness of breath. Fatigue, weakness and weight loss typically occur later.
Consult your doctor if any of the following problems occur:
- Trouble breathing
- Pain under the rib cage
- Pain or swelling in the abdomen
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Persistent cough and/or blood in coughed up fluid
After you have consulted with your primary care physician and then, with other cancer specialists, you will have the necessary information to begin the process of moving forward. Together you and your family may choose to hold those companies and people responsible for your asbestos exposure. If your decision is to fight, learn how to vet a mesothelioma law firm with the same careful consideration you gave to choosing your medical team.