Mesothelioma can be caused by several reasons. However, asbestos exposure is its primary cause. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that was used extensively in construction and other industries as it is resistant to heat, water, and corrosion. People working in these industries in the late 90s and their families are more prone to developing this illness. Due to a long latency period, the condition is often misdiagnosed initially.
A mesothelioma misdiagnosis is quite common and dangerous because it can delay treatment and reduce life expectancy. Misdiagnosis occurs when doctors mistakenly diagnose the symptoms of mesothelioma as some other disease that has similar symptoms. Therefore, physicians should recommend patients undergo all necessary tests and screenings to rule out the possibility of mesothelioma.
Any illness can be mentally and physically challenging. However, if diagnosed at the right time, the possibility of leading a healthy and long life increase significantly. Therefore, it is encouraged to seek a second opinion if you suspect something or haven’t shared your work history with the relevant physicians.
After diagnosis, it is encouraged to seek the best medical treatment and legal help to sue the companies involved in your asbestos exposure that resulted in mesothelioma. Filing an asbestos-related lawsuit can help you receive adequate financial compensation to cover your medical expenses and other related costs.
However, before seeking medical and legal help, getting the correct diagnosis should be your priority. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss the common reasons that lead to mesothelioma misdiagnosis and what steps you can take if you suspect a misdiagnosis.
1. It is a Rare Form of Disease
Mesothelioma is a rare form of the disease, and most of its symptoms are the same as symptoms of common cold, chest infection and other lung and heart-related illnesses. The rarity of the disease and overlapping symptoms can often lead to a misdiagnosis. Since primary care physicians rarely come in contact with mesothelioma patients, misdiagnosis can happen easily.
Sometimes the doctors correctly diagnose mesothelioma but make mistakes in identifying the stage of the disease, which often leads to inadequate treatment. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the stage of the illness to begin appropriate treatment.
2. It Can Stay Dormant for Years Before Causing any Symptoms
Most mesothelioma patients in the US are people in their late 50s and 60s who were exposed to asbestos decades ago and never took precautions. However, mesothelioma can stay dormant for years before manifesting itself into physical symptoms. Therefore, the gap between exposure and the development of disease makes it hard to connect the two events.
Mesothelioma can stay latent for 20-50 years before causing symptoms. Many people with mild symptoms like flu, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever don’t get medical attention soon enough, further complicating the diagnosis.
3. Its Symptoms are Similar to Many Other Chest Diseases
Mesothelioma has vague symptoms that are similar to many other chest and lung illnesses. Therefore, many doctors confuse it with more commonly occurring illnesses and misdiagnose it. Moreover, you can also get misdiagnosed based on the type of mesothelioma you have.
Mesothelioma has different types, and each has slightly different symptoms. The most misdiagnosed type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma because it has several symptoms similar to pneumonia. Similarly, peritoneal mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel movement and other stomach-related diseases.
4. Limitations of Diagnostic Techniques Can Also Lead to a Misdiagnosis
Mesothelioma is a rare disease with common symptoms. Therefore, it doesn’t come to the mind of most doctors when patients initially report their symptoms. A lengthy diagnostic process is involved in the proper diagnosis of mesothelioma. The limitations of these diagnostic techniques can also delay the diagnosis and treatment process. Some of the diagnostic techniques are as follows:
In this technique, technicians use special stains to test fluid or tissue samples. However, staining patterns are not enough. Other characteristics of the disease and the patient’s medical history must also be considered before coming to a conclusion.
Many common types of diseases can easily be diagnosed with the help of an X-ray or a CT (Computed Tomography) scan. However, mesothelioma is a rare disease, and a full tissue biopsy is a more reliable technique to diagnose it.
Mesothelioma cells under a microscope look similar to other tumors and related cells. Therefore, doctors can misdiagnose the mesothelioma cell type based on an incorrect histology report.
What to Do if You Suspect Misdiagnosis?
Mesothelioma misdiagnosis is common, and most first-stage mesothelioma patients get misdiagnosed. Therefore, if you develop persistent chest or abdomen problems and are not convinced of your initial diagnosis by your regular doctor, it is best to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist who treats mesothelioma patients on a regular basis. Moreover, mesothelioma specialist clinics also have trained technicians who rarely make mistakes in the diagnostic process of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Get a Second Opinion from a Mesothelioma Specialist
The average doctor doesn’t have the right experience to diagnose mesothelioma. Therefore, it is best to get the opinion of a mesothelioma specialist even if you are already diagnosed with mesothelioma. It is because the stage of your disease might have been misdiagnosed and mesothelioma specialists have all the tools and experience to accurately diagnose the stage and cell type of mesothelioma, which is crucial for proper diagnosis and effective treatment.
Getting a second opinion also gives you peace of mind that a correct diagnosis was made. Moreover, an appropriate diagnosis opens the pathway for more and the latest treatment options or clinical trials.
The Wrap Up
Mesothelioma is a rare disease primarily caused by asbestos exposure. The disease is often misdiagnosed because of various reasons. It has vague symptoms similar to many other common chest and lung diseases. It has a long latency period, which means the disease can stay dormant for years before causing any symptoms. Moreover, since regular doctors don’t come in contact with mesothelioma patients on a regular basis, it is easy to misdiagnose it as other common illnesses. Additionally, limitations or mistakes in the diagnostic techniques like histology, cytology, and imaging tests, can also result in an inaccurate diagnosis.
Overall, several factors can lead to mesothelioma misdiagnosis. However, if you suspect a misdiagnosis, it is best to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist for your peace of mind. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the common reasons mesothelioma misdiagnosis occurs.