What to do after a mesothelioma diagnosis

Developing mesothelioma – an incurable form of cancer – is unlike other accidents at work or even other work-related illnesses.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be an extremely long process. It can take 20 to 50 years for symptoms to start developing, meaning that you won’t know you’re suffering with the disease for decades.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer typically associated with asbestos exposure – usually through work. This means that certain people are more likely to develop the disease. Workers in the following industries have traditionally been more likely to be exposed to asbestos:

  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Ship building
  • Textiles
  • Firefighting

There have also been numerous cases of workers in high-risk industries exposing their families to asbestos fibres through their clothing, which resulted in those family members suffering from the associated illness.

It mainly develops in the lungs – known as pleural mesothelioma – but it can also develop in the abdomen – known as peritoneal mesothelioma. It causes the mesothelial cells – which are found covering the outer layer of most internal organs – to become cancerous.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

If you are suffering from the symptoms of mesothelioma, your doctor will then likely carry out a physical exam to check for any lumps or any unusual signs. If they suspect mesothelioma, they will then typically send you for tests, including X-rays, MRI and CT scans.

You may have to undergo further tests to establish exactly what you are suffering from. A biopsy will provide doctors with the most conclusive result.

You should ensure you seek out urgent medical treatment if you have been exposed to asbestos and you are suffering from symptoms including:

  • Chest or lower back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal swelling

What to do after a diagnosis

One of the first things you should do after being diagnosed is have an honest conversation with your doctor. Make sure you know exactly what your prognosis is, what symptoms you should expect to experience and what your quality of life will be. Consider what questions you’d like to ask and write them down before your appointment so you don’t forget anything.

You should then look at getting specialist care. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, accounting for 1% of cancer deaths in 2017, according to Cancer Research UK. This means that that you may find it challenging to find a specialist in your area. It’s advisable to do your research and find the right person to treat you and your illness.

You can also think about making a claim for compensation. Your employer could be liable for your illness, meaning you could be entitled to damages for your health problems. With the help of specialist work accident and illness solicitors like those working with First4Lawyers, you stand the best chance of putting across the strongest case.

The compensation you are awarded for a successful claim will help you prepare for the future. It can help to make you more comfortable, as well as prevent you from worrying about a loss of earnings if you become too unwell to work.

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