Many people who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are shocked to hear that they have the rare and deadly form of cancer. They either are entirely unfamiliar with the illness, or have no idea that they were exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives. But for many others, the diagnosis is the culmination of years of watching and waiting: these are people who had worked in occupations that exposed them to the carcinogenic material, or who had a parent who might have brought the dust home on their clothing, or who lived near asbestos mines when they were children. For those people with a known exposure, many physicians suggest that getting screened early and often may provide extended survival benefits.
Speaking of the advantages of early cancer screenings using low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans, Dr. Robert Kruklitis of the Lehigh Valley Hospital provided advice that speaks directly to those at risk for mesothelioma. Knowing that you’ve been exposed to asbestos means you live under a cloud of concern, but it also means that you have the opportunity to inform your physician about your exposure and are eligible to have early screening for the disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is a disease that has a very long latency period. This means that cancerous cells multiply within the body for decades without leading to any symptoms: it’s not until the condition is far advanced that patients begin to exhibit signs that send them to the doctor and their eventual diagnosis. As a result, the disease is extremely difficult to treat. A CT scan, however, will show cancerous cells long before they begin to cause symptoms, and provide you with a virtual head start in fighting back against the disease.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), “an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services,” has assessed CT scan use for those who are risk for malignant mesothelioma as being of great benefit, and those who are at risk and who use Medicare Part B are generally eligible for an annual lung cancer screening. Pursuing this early screening can go a long way towards extending your survival, as well as giving you additional peace of mind.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, there are many resources available for your medical wellbeing as well as to protect your rights. For more information contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.