After exposure to asbestos fibers, it may take anywhere from twenty to fifty years for symptoms of malignancy to surface. If symptoms do surface before that time, they are often discounted or misdiagnosed as something else such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, pneumonia, or even the flu. Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis allows the real disease to continue unchecked and more extensive illness often results.
The key to successful treatment of mesothelioma is early detection…yet early detection almost seems like a misnomer with this insidious illness. A history of asbestos exposure definitely sheds light on mesothelioma symptoms, so a thorough health history for each patient is critical. Confusing symptoms suddenly make much more sense when asbestos exposure is revealed, and investigation into the cause of specific symptoms can be much more targeted. Interestingly, some people do not report any asbestos exposure because they personally never worked or lived in an environment where asbestos was present. However, there have been numerous cases of family members developing mesothelioma due to secondary exposure as asbestos was inadvertently carried into their environment on shoes, clothing, or equipment.
Overall health, age, and current stage of the disease are all factors that will be considered when formulating a treatment plan. Choosing a physician skilled with not only the medical procedures involved but also the intuition to carefully discern the best treatments for each individual will ensure that each patient receives the most effective treatment possible.