If you or a family member has been knowingly exposed to asbestos either through work, house renovations or some other way, it’s important to go and have a physical checkup done. Make sure you tell the physician about the exposure and how long ago it happened. If your exposure was anywhere in the last ten to fifteen years it is quite possible that nothing will show up in the physical exam. This is because asbestos related diseases tend to incubate or lie dormant for many years. Early detection is very important for hope of proper treatment. Any asbestos workers from the shipbuilding, asbestos mining, and manufacturing industries are at particular risk.
Particularly in the early stages, asbestos-related diseases can easily be mistaken for other conditions. This makes it all the more important to screen properly.
Screening involves several steps. The first step a doctor will do after collecting all the history and basic medical information will be to use a thorascope. This procedure is called a Thoracoscopy, which involves a tiny incision into the chest. A sample of lung tissue can be removed to determine whether it is cancerous. This procedure is usually done in a hospital setting with a local anesthetic. It causes little to no pain. He may also order a regular x-ray to see if anything abnormal shows up.
The second step involves a device called a peritoneoscope. This device looks inside the abdomen and can collect tissue samples at the same time. The physician will also be looking for excess fluid. At this time, he has the capacity to drain off some of the excess fluid to relieve any pain.
The third step to mesothelioma screening is to conduct more advanced steps in case the previous ones were inconclusive. These advanced tests could include a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan. This scan gives a three dimensional x-ray of the tissue in question. This helps to see problematic areas before they get any worse.
A fourth step would be to order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan. This MRI uses high-energy magnetic fields as it takes cross-sectional pictures of the internal organs and skeleton. By seeing the internal structure, it is easier to distinguish healthy from diseased tissues.
Both of the above scans are tools that help physicians to recognize problems long before a patient begins to show any symptoms.
Even with the techniques available to day, mesothelioma often goes undetected. It is important to have regular screenings in anyone who has had prolonged exposure to asbestos. New research is ongoing. Eventually some viable treatment and even a cure will happen. If in the unfortunate circumstance, you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you want to be in the best position to take advantage of the new treatments and that means early detection for best results.
Rick has been writing about health related topics for over 12 years. He specializes in mesothelioma and asbestos related ailments.