Recent Mesothelioma Death Shows More Aggressive, Early Diagnoses Needed

A 70-year-old man from Japan who worked around asbestos during his career as a truck driver went undiagnosed for mesothelioma, and subsequently passed away. Now, doctors are hoping to us this as an example of how important an early diagnosis is.

According to researchers at Japan’s Gifu Prefectural Tajimi Hospital, the 70-year-old man visited the hospital complaining of chest pains just seven months before he died. Yet, physicians were unable to get a proper diagnosis of mesothelioma in time. Daizo Yaguuchi, MD is now asking his colleagues and others to take a closer look at patients for asbestos-related illnesses, especially when they complain of chest pain.

“When chronic chest pain of unknown cause is observed and past exposure to asbestos is suspected, actions to prevent delay in diagnosis should be taken, including testing for suspicion of malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma, yet it’s also associated with many other illnesses and if physicians aren’t specifically looking for an asbestos illness, it can go undetected. In the 70-year-old man’s case, physicians took a sample of fluid from his lungs, but it didn’t indicate mesothelioma, showing that diagnosing mesothelioma can be complex.

The Difficulties of Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Although physician’s suspected mesothelioma, not only were there no signs of it when fluid was taken from the lungs, but when a FDG-PET scan was performed, there still wasn’t enough pleural thickening on his lungs for doctors to make a confirmed diagnosis.

Doctors also performed a thoracoscopy on the 70-year-old, a procedure in which a small camera is inserted into the chest area in order to look for cancerous cells and other signs of mesothelioma. Yet, even then, physicians stated that “no definite diagnosis could be made.”

After the man died, physicians were able to successfully diagnose sarcomatoid mesothelioma via an autopsy. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is an extremely rare type of the disease and also one of the most difficult types to diagnose since the cancerous cells mimic so many other types of benign diseases. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is also one of the most difficult types of the disease to treat, but catching it as early as possible yield the highest chances of successful treatment.

Catching Mesothelioma Early

If mesothelioma is caught in its earliest stages, aggressive treatment can begin immediately, which can offer the best chances of shrinking and/or eliminating cancerous tumors. Dr. Yaguuchi urges all people who have worked around asbestos to get regular medical checkups, regardless of whether you’re feeling well or not, and to always make sure to inform your physician if you may have been exposed to asbestos.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are numerous ways in which mesothelioma is diagnosed, yet physicians typically will not suspect mesothelioma in younger patients, which is why it’s always important to mention asbestos exposure. A common myth is that mesothelioma only develops in older people. While the majority of cases of mesothelioma are indeed from people over the age of 60, the disease can develop at any age.

Another reason mesothelioma is detected late is because many people who experience the first symptoms may not think they are anything other than the common cold or a flu. Early mesothelioma symptoms mimic common upper respiratory illnesses, and usually, when the patient decides to seek help, it’s already too late.

Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Victims

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. For additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-694-4856.

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Yaguuchi, D, et al, “An Autopsied Case of Malignant Sarcomatoid Pleural Mesothelioma in Which Chest Pain Developed Several Months Earlier without Abnormality on Imaging”, October 21, 2015, Case Reports in Oncology, pp. 439-446.