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Screening tricky for mesothelioma

According to the American Cancer Society, it can be a challenge for doctors to detect mesothelioma — a relatively rare cancer affecting the mesothelium, which is the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body.

There are no widely recommended screening tests, but exposure to asbestos is the primary cause, and some doctors recommend imaging tests for people who may be at risk. Those tests include chest x-rays and computed tomography scans to look for changes in the lungs that might be a sign of mesothelioma.

Doctors have found that mesothelioma patients often have high levels of certain substances in their blood, including osteopontin and soluble mesothelin-related peptides. Though blood tests for those substances may one day be useful in detecting mesothelioma early, they’re currently used mainly to monitor the course of the disease in people already known to have it.

Mesothelioma is usually found when a patient goes to a doctor with symptoms, according to the American Cancer Society.

The listed symptoms vary depending on whether the mesothelioma occurs primarily in the chest or abdomen.

For the chest, they include:

  • Pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the face and arms

For the abdomen, they include:

  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Swelling or fluid in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

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