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Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, and it's a cancer that is fatal, often within months of receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. Researchers have recently been speeding up their efforts to discover better treatment methods. But the best tools for finding the disease are still similar to detecting any lung cancer—except for the asbestos factor.

History of asbestos exposure

If you believe you may have lung cancer, the best tools for diagnosing the disease will include a thorough history of your life. If a doctor has already diagnosed you with mesothelioma and your medical history did not uncover this fact, the most important thing you can do is find a mesothelioma attorney who has much experience working with people to help them remember any occasions or circumstances in which they may have been exposed to asbestos.

Even brief exposure to asbestos can lead many years later to a case of malignant pleural mesothelioma or to other types of mesothelioma.

Detecting symptoms of mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma you may notice yourself are similar to those of many lung cancers, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and so on.

Unfortunately, the signs of lung cancer that you notice yourself—especially if you delay getting medical attention—can mean that your disease has reached a later stage. In any case, when you work with an experienced medical team, they will use the best diagnostic tools available to determine what your disease is and how to treat it.

The best tools for diagnosing mesothelioma may include simple tests such as blood tests and x-rays. If your body is found to be retaining fluid in the lungs or abdomen, your doctor may want a more advanced reading from, for example, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT scan (computed tomography scan). These will give much more complete information about what is going on in your tissues.

On occasion, your doctor will want to take a sample (biopsy) of what's called a "pleural effusion" (fluid in the lungs) or "peritoneal effusion" (fluid in the abdomen). In rare cases asbestos can lead to a pericardial mesothelioma, which can be characterized by fluid around the heart.

If the doctor is not totally sure that the fluid diagnosis is accurate, s/he may wish to do a tissue biopsy to reach definite diagnosis. If you are diagnosed, don't hesitate to contact a qualified mesothelioma lawyer to find out whether it makes sense for you to file an asbestos lawsuit.