Mesothelioma is a unique and always-fatal form of cancer that most commonly forms in the pleural lining and involves the lungs. Though it is very different from lung cancer, the two diseases do share some characteristics — most notably, lung cancer can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.
This risk factor is likely to work to the benefit of potential mesothelioma victims as a collaborative research team from the University of Michigan and the Department of Veterans Affairs has recently developed a personalized lung cancer screening tool that will include questions about patients’ exposure to asbestos. The tool is designed to identify patients who are at higher risk for cancer so that they can be guided into low dose CT (computed tomography) scans before their symptoms begin to appear. The hope is that despite the risks involved with CT scans, these patients’ cancers will be identified earlier and their treatment will have a better chance of being effective.
The benefit that earlier screening will provide to those with mesothelioma is immeasurable. Because mesothelioma has such a long latency, the disease’s tumors are often far advanced long before the patient begins to experience symptoms. Most mesothelioma patients are not diagnosed until their disease has progressed so far that little can be done beyond making them more comfortable. But because the search for potential lung cancer patients will now include questions about exposure to asbestos, it is hoped that the screening tool will act as a catalyst to earlier diagnosis of mesothelioma patients as well.
Though lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, it is also considered curable, especially when it is diagnosed early. By contrast, mesothelioma is always considered a fatal disease. Researchers hope that earlier diagnosis can change that, along with other improvements in treatment protocols.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma need medical assistance, emotional support, and legal guidance. For information about your rights, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.