As clinicians on the front lines of cancer treatment become more adept at identifying patients at risk for malignant mesothelioma, there are rising suspicions that the statistics linked to the disease may fall far short of the reality on the ground. Reporting has indicated that there has been little change in the number of cases over the last fifty years since asbestos use has declined, and the absence of a dramatic decline is an indication that the majority of physicians are misdiagnosing the illness.
Mesothelioma Frequently Misdiagnosed
A careful study of the statistics reveals that mesothelioma is identified in roughly 0.3 percent of all cancers, a number that has held steady for decades. This is counterintuitive: mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, and since mesothelioma use has fallen since regulations were put in place in the 1970s, the expectation would have been a rapid decrease in the number of cases diagnosed.
The fact that the number of diagnosed mesothelioma cases has not changed has led epidemiologists to believe that physicians are prone to misdiagnosing the disease, failing to recognize the distinctive symptoms and rarely asking patients about any previous exposure to asbestos. The disease is often diagnosed as lung cancer, which means that patients may not be receiving the appropriate treatment specific to the disease.
Improvements in Treatment of Mesothelioma In the United States
Though malignant mesothelioma treatment protocols have steadily improved over the last fifty years, there is still no cure for the disease. Patient survival time has improved with customized treatment approaches, which is why it is so important that the rare, asbestos-related for of cancer is properly diagnosed.
The key to improving the accuracy of mesothelioma statistics lies in making sure that physicians know the importance of questioning patients about possible asbestos exposure. This has become increasingly important as concerns rise over possible asbestos contamination from household products like talc-based baby powders.
If you or someone you love has a known or suspected history of exposure to asbestos, it is essential that you make your physician aware of it, and your associated risk of malignant mesothelioma. For information about how mesothelioma can affect you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.