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Is the goal of early detection of mesothelioma plausible?

Here in Ohio and elsewhere, people wait up to 50 years to know whether their exposure to asbestos will eventually give them cancer. After all that time, those exposed are supposed to get to the doctor as early as possible of the onset of mesothelioma in order to increase the chances of extending survival. The problem is that by the time most people develop symptoms, it's already too late.

Once an individual experiences symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, the cancer has most likely already passed the point of early detection. Moreover, these symptoms could indicate any number of medical conditions. This could make diagnosing mesothelioma problematic at best.

If a doctor knows a patient was exposed to asbestos at some point, he or she may suggest periodic imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans or X-rays in order to watch for changes in the condition of the person's lungs. Even so, doing these tests does not necessarily catch mesothelioma early. Periodic blood tests may help since a person with mesothelioma has elevated levels of certain substances. If these levels begin to go above normal, it could provide a way to detect the cancer early, which could offer an individual more treatment options, more time and a better quality of life.

Ohio residents exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives may want to establish a relationship with a doctor who knows about the exposure. Even though medical testing may not help catch the onset of mesothelioma early enough yet, it could come at some point in the future. In the meantime, a doctor could closely monitor a patient. Of course, the best-case scenario would be that the exposure never results in the onset of this or any other asbestos-related illness.

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