What is an asbestos medical screening?
If you worked in mining or any other high asbestos risk industry, the diagnostic process for mesothelioma can be long and involved.
Before determining what specific illness you have and whether it is asbestos-related, your physician will conduct a detailed interview with you about your health and occupational history.
Medical and Work History
If you are or were at any time a regular smoker or tobacco user, this will be important for your doctor to know because smoking can aggravate illnesses of the respiratory system (but doesn’t increase the risk of mesothelioma according to research). You’ll be asked where you worked that may have exposed you to asbestos and other carcinogens that could be responsible for your illness.
Asbestos Medical Screening Tests
In addition to documenting the breadth of your exposure history, your doctor (or one that you are referred to) will likely conduct a comprehensive asbestos medical screening which should include (but is not limited to) the following:
This simply means listening to the heart and lung sounds. If you have lung disease or illness, there is typically a crackling or clicking noise at the base of the lungs caused by small airways trying to open after being collapsed by fluid.
Your physician will examine your extremities looking for clubbed fingers or toes or cyanosis. Any of these can indicate reduced oxygen flow which is a hallmark of heart and/or lung disease.
A radiograph of your chest can reveal any thickening or hardening of the protective layers around the lungs, called the pleura. In the lower lungs, radiologists will look for dark spots and/or tumors.
Pulmonary Function Test
These tests show how much air you can inhale into your lungs and then exhale as well as the oxygenated quality of the air to assess the strength of breathing muscles.
Supplementary CT Scans
Depending on what the x-rays show, follow up CT scans may likely be performed to get a more detailed look at what’s going on with any impacted organs.
Because asbestos is such a pervasive and complex disease, your family doctor typically won’t be the one involved in the advanced diagnosis and treatment of your illness.
You’ll likely deal with radiologists, pulmonologists, oncologists and even pathologists in order to develop a definitive diagnosis of your illness.
Time from Asbestos Exposure to Diagnosis
Asbestos disease gestates over time and in its earlier stages can be difficult to diagnose. Once your disease is diagnosed, additional testing may be required to link it to asbestos exposure. Depending on the intensity and duration of your exposure, it could take anywhere from 10 to 50 years for your illness to manifest.
Staging and Treatment after Asbestos Disease Diagnosis
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of an asbestos related disease, the next steps are staging and determining treatment options. Staging will likely involve further testing to determine how far the disease has progressed and whether it has spread to other areas of the body.
Once staging is established (stage 1 is the least serious and stage 4 the most pervasive) then treatment options will be developed and should include palliative therapy targeted at pain relief and, when possible, curative therapies aimed at reducing or eliminating the cancerous cells.
If you or a loved one have been stricken with mesothelioma, Bergman Draper Oslund is ready to help you. For the past 15 years, we have focused on representing asbestos exposure victims and have won more than $700 million in settlements. Call us now for a free consultation about compensation for your mesothelioma caused by asbestos.