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How is mesothelioma diagnosed and treated?

For Californians who have worked around shipyards and old buildings, the thought of having mesothelioma is a frightening possibility. Asbestos is not commonly used nowadays, but it was prevalent up until the 1980s. Many workers were exposed to this deadly substance decades ago and are just now beginning to show symptoms of exposure. If you have mesothelioma, it's important to know what to expect as the disease progresses.

Diagnosis is the first step and this involves looking at your medical background as well as your work history. How long have you been experiencing problems in your chest and lungs? Have you ever worked in construction? The next step will be to perform diagnostics such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. The doctor will also evaluate your pulmonary system to determine lung functioning. Biopsies will also be performed if anything suspicious is found.

If you're diagnosed with mesothelioma, you'll be referred to an oncologist - a doctor whose specialty is cancer. The progression of the disease will be determined by stages. There are three staging systems for mesothelioma. One determines how big the mass is. The other looks at whether lymph nodes are involved and how much the tumor has spread. The third stage assesses whether the tumor can be removed.

There are various treatment options available, depending on the stage of the tumor. Chemotherapy and surgery are viable options, especially if the tumor is localized to just one general area. Clinical trials may also be available. If your loved one has died due to asbestos exposure, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the person's employer or other liable party. A lawsuit can help family members recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses and other damages.

Source: FindLaw, "Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Treatment," accessed July 5, 2015

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