Over the years, a lot of effort has gone into methods of detecting mesothelioma in patients before it reaches the critical stage where the cancer cannot be reversed. So far, what is known is that depending on the type of mesothelioma, the incubation period range from twenty to forty years. However, many of the symptoms associated with mesothelioma during its early stages are similar to regular respiratory, cardiac and abdominal diseases. This makes it difficult to be diagnosed and often leads doctors off on a wrong path to treating many of these other ailments without focusing of tackling the mesothelioma during its early state.
Previously, doctors had to rely only on X-rays and surgery to diagnose mesothelioma. However, with the arrival of ultrasound, CT scans and procedures such as thoracoscopy and lung biopsy, doctors can perform non-surgical procedures to look inside body cavity or extract infected cell tissue for analysis. These procedures also come at significantly less cost to the victim.
It is important to make the distinction between lung cancer and mesothelioma. Though they may have the same symptoms of shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and persistent coughing, both diseases attack the lungs in different areas. Lung cancer involves the growth of cancerous cells within the lungs usually due to excessive smoking. On the other hand, mesothelioma involves the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the mesothelium, which is the tissue cells surrounding the lungs. This restricts the movement of the lungs resulting in difficulty breathing and is known as pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is usually caused from exposure to asbestos particles that become lodges into the cells of the lungs.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma. However, there are two other forms of mesothelioma known as pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma. Though not as popular as pleural mesothelioma, these two types of mesothelioma are far more lethal.