If you have been exposed to asbestos, an illness that you could develop is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is not the only kind of illness that you could get, though. Others may include asbestosis or pulmonary fibrosis.
There are differences in these diagnoses that make it important that you have the right one. While mesothelioma is a cancer that may spread and put your life in danger, the same is not true of pulmonary fibrosis, which is noncancerous. Pulmonary fibrosis, which can include asbestosis, occurs when there is scar tissue in the lungs. This restricts a person’s ability to breathe because the tissues stiffen and thicken over time.
The problem with a misdiagnosis is that a patient may be given treatments that they don’t need or that aren’t right for the condition. If that happens, then the patient could suffer secondary complications unrelated to the original condition. For example, if a person with pulmonary fibrosis is given chemotherapy for mesothelioma, they could have complications from the chemotherapy and even develop other cancers from the treatment. On the other hand, if mesothelioma is treated as if it’s pulmonary fibrosis, the cancer may spread and lead to the patient’s death.
There is no cure for mesothelioma or pulmonary fibrosis
There isn’t a cure that will resolve pulmonary fibrosis once scarring has begun. At that point, the scarring is irreversible. People with mesothelioma should also know that there is no known cure. However, both of these conditions can be treated.
As a cancer, mesothelioma may be treated with cancer-abating medications, radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery may also be an option. Medications, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation may also help.
Similarly, patients with pulmonary fibrosis may be able to obtain a lung transplant if they’re eligible, or they could use pulmonary rehabilitation or oxygen therapy to overcome the illness.
Getting the right treatment is essential because a misdiagnosis will delay treatment and potentially result in the wrong treatment being received by the patient. Seeking medical attention and a second opinion is a good idea if you’re unsure if the treatment you’re going through is working for you. Remember, once you receive your diagnosis, you may be able to seek compensation from a past employer if exposure occurred in your workplace.