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If You Worked in One of the Following Industries, Get Tested for Asbestos as Soon as Possible

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on February 21st, 2017

Multiple tests and examination procedures are required for a reliable diagnosis and only a specialized oncologist with significant experience in evaluating and treating asbestos-related diseases will be able to provide you with a precise diagnosis.

Exposure to asbestos can occur in multiple ways, from environmental exposure - if you live close to large deposits of asbestos - to inhaling fibers of toxic minerals in your own house, since asbestos has been a very popular building material until the 1980s. However, the majority of people who now suffer from an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis have been exposed to the carcinogen in the workplace. Occupational exposure is responsible for most diagnosed cases, as employees who worked in certain industries had been in regular contact with very high levels of asbestos and oftentimes were not required to use protective equipment to prevent contamination.

The construction industry, the shipbuilding industry and the oil refining industry are only three of the numerous businesses, which entailed enormous amounts of asbestos. Millions of laborers have been neglectfully or intentionally exposed to these carcinogenic minerals, although the serious health effects of asbestos had been known ever since the 1930s. Therefore, if you had a high-risk job, we strongly advise you to get tested by a specialist in asbestos disease as soon as possible, particularly if you also experience the associated symptoms listed below. Because asbestos-related cancer is not as common as other malignant diseases, choosing an oncologist with a vast experience in diagnosing and treating these forms of cancer, as well as seeking a second opinion, is essential for your health.

The Early Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Cancer Are Often Vague and Can Easily Be Mistaken for the Signs of Less Severe Conditions

The symptoms, which typically accompany a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure may not seem very distressing in the beginning, hence why the majority of people who are going to be diagnosed with a serious disease tend to thoughtlessly dismiss the initial signs or attribute them to a common respiratory condition such as bronchitis, asthma or pneumonia. Nevertheless, the severity of these symptoms will only continue to increase within the following months and regrettably, a lot of people find out they are suffering from lung cancer or mesothelioma when cancer is considerably advanced. As the disease progresses, the number of effective and safe treatment options becomes lower.

While lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos is undeniably severe and difficult to keep under control, mesothelioma implies even more physical and emotional distress - it is significantly more aggressive and has a tendency to spread rapidly to other organs as well. Consequently, mesothelioma is generally associated with a poor prognosis and a life expectancy of one year of less, if cancer has reached the advanced stages. If you have a history of asbestos exposure and experience one or more of the following symptoms, regardless of their frequency or intensity, we strongly recommend you to get tested by a specialist, as you are at a high risk of developing an asbestos-related disease:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • a persistent cough
  • fever
  • unintentional weight loss
  • wheezing
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • excessive sweating, especially at night
  • hoarseness
  • nausea
  • fluid buildup in the chest or abdomen
  • difficulty swallowing
  • loss of appetite

Occupational Asbestos Exposure Annually Claims the Lives of Over 12,000 People in the U.S.

High Risk Asbestos Industries

Over 75 occupational groups have been exposed to tremendous concentrations of asbestos in the workplace throughout the last century. If you had a job in one of the industries below, you should not postpone getting screened for the presence of asbestos fibers in you lungs, especially if you already have symptoms, as the risk of contamination is the highest for employees who worked in the following trades:

  • asbestos manufacturing
  • shipbuilding
  • oil refining
  • construction industry
  • electric power industry
  • asbestos mining
  • chemical industry
  • steel industry
  • textile industry
  • demolition industry
  • paper industry

Most Oncologists Do Not Encounter a Single Mesothelioma Patient throughout Their Entire Career, So Finding an Expert Is Crucial

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer, with only 3,000 new cases every year. For this reason, the majority of oncologists will not come across any patient suffering from this malignant disease throughout their practice. Additionally, mesothelioma is extremely challenging to diagnose and accurately assess even for specialists, as there are not many cases documented in medical literature. Multiple tests and examination procedures are required for a reliable diagnosis and only a specialized oncologist with significant experience in evaluating and treating asbestos-related diseases will be able to provide you with a precise diagnosis.

We are aware that, considering the low prevalence of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, the number of medical experts is not very high. Nevertheless, you can still find the best specialists in asbestos disease in your area by accessing online resources which provide you with essential information regarding your potential oncologist, from their primary areas of expertise to how many years of medical experience they have. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and you will be shown a list of all specialists who currently practice in your state.

Looking For a Second Opinion Might Substantially Improve Your Prognosis or Even Save Your Life

While seeking a second opinion is always a wise idea, getting evaluated by another specialist is vital when you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related form of cancer. Oftentimes, diagnosing mesothelioma proves to be an incredibly demanding and complex task even for the most experienced specialists due to its intricacies and low prevalence. Therefore, even if you think you might have found the perfect oncologist, looking for a second opinion could still benefit you in multiple ways. Distinguishing between very similar forms of cancer such as pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer is incredibly challenging and sometimes, your first specialist will suggest you get a second opinion themselves. The rate of misdiagnosis is unfortunately very high when it comes to mesothelioma and not few are the people who regret not having consulted a second expert sooner. A second opinion may allow you access to more efficient and appropriate treatment options if you had been diagnosed with a wrong disease and can thereby improve your prognosis to a great extent or even lead to the remission of cancer if it is timely discovered. The following confessions belong to people whose family members had been misdiagnosed, which proved to be highly detrimental to their prognosis, and all of them emphasize the importance of a prompt second opinion:

"My husband was misdiagnosed with adenocarcinoma, when he actually has mesothelioma. After 18 months they did a pleurodesis, which put him in terrible pain but resulted in mesothelioma being finally diagnosed. Then, in July, he had a pleurectomy with decortication. Nothing gave him some quality of life back until he had that surgery."

"The first consultant lost further time accusing my mother of just having pneumonia recovery problems. I was berated for being over anxious. Mesothelioma was ruled out by his ego. Sadly, my anxiety was proven right by the consultants at the next hospital, who told me it was all too late. Words can not describe how I feel against that consultant. I wish I had forced them while she was still here but caring long term and stress can knock you out."

"The amount of people who have this terrible disease that are misdiagnosed for so long is scary. My partner might have had this for 2 years but no one realized, as the symptoms are like pneumonia. There must be more hospitals to get an earlier diagnosis. At least then we and all others sufferers can have more time with our loved ones."

"I will be honest and say I am angry they rule mesothelioma out from the start when the fluid said it could be that, they only did a needle biopsy to diagnose. A small amount of tissue was not enough, they should have done a thorascopy in the first place. If he had been diagnosed correctly from the start, he could have had the surgery and had all of his pleura removed on the right side. Because he was not, he had chemo and radiation to get rid of the original tumor and that tissue is now like a rock with nerves wrapped around. It can't be removed as it would make things even worse and it hurts him. He would have had the surgery first if he had not been misdiagnosed and he would probably not have the permanent damage he does, or at least not as much of it."