Mesothelioma is very difficult to treat. People who are diagnosed with the disease are usually told they have less than a year to live. Fortunately thetreatments are improving, and some people can survive the disease. Far more people have a chance of a five year survival than in the past. However, the treatment can only be effective if the cancer is caught early, and some of the leading mesothelioma specialists only offer their advanced treatments to patients in the early stages.
Asbestos related illnesses can take years to manifest symptoms. Each case is unique, and there have been rare cases of victims dying of mesothelioma just a few years after exposure, but for most people symptoms do not surface for 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.
Once the disease becomes active, it does damage quickly, but the symptoms may start out very mild. Severe symptoms often do not appear until the cancer is very advanced.
Looking for the wrong illness
Many people are not even aware that they have been exposed to asbestos, so when the symptoms appear, mesothelioma is the last thing they expect. The symptoms of mesothelioma can mimic the symptoms of many less serious illnesses leading patients and doctors to look for other more obvious causes, or to simply assume that another illness is the source.
In pleural mesothelioma, the type of mesothelioma which affects the lungs, the symptoms can initially be obscured by years of smoking. Smokers who begin to experience breathing difficulty should never assume that it is “just from smoking.” Often shortness of breath, rasping, and a “smoker’s cough” are tell tale signs of serious illness, including asbestos related illness.
Common misdiagnoses of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Whooping cough
- Broken or bruised ribs
Peritoneal mesothelioma, mesothelioma of the lining of the abdominal cavity, is often mistaken for gastrointestinal disorders.
Although there are many factors which contribute to a delayed diagnosis of mesothelioma, failure to diagnose mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancer can be the result of medical malpractice including:
- Failure to recognize or address common symptoms
- Improper administration of tests
- Improper blood and tissue sampling
- Improper reading of test results
- Failure to recommend tests due to financial concerns
- Failure to follow up with patient
Even with early detection. Mesothelioma has a very high mortality rate.Failure to diagnose cancer of any type greatly reduces the chance of survival and typically means that the patient must undergo more aggressive treatment. Delayed diagnosis of mesothelioma can mean that you are not even eligible for treatment.
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or asbestosis, contact and experienced asbestos exposure attorney today.