Asbestos, which has been used for, quite literally, thousands of years as a fire-retardant and insulation material has long been connected to sickness, though not necessarily cancer until the last 50 years. Once asbestos was classified as a known carcinogen, the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission imposed strict regulation on its use in commercial and industrial products. Unfortunately, many of the companies producing asbestos products were well aware of the hazards which asbestos posed and continued to expose workers and laborers to the harmful asbestos fibers.
Asbestos cancer diagnosis is difficult due to the symptoms of the disease mimicking those of other illnesses.Asbestos cancer diagnosis, including diagnosis of mesothelioma and lung carcinoma, can be difficult because symptoms of the disease can closely mimic those of other more minor respiratory complications. Symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or chronic cough may lead physicians to suspect mesothelioma, particularly if the patient has a known asbestos exposure history.
Diagnostic tools include CT scans and MRIs for patients where asbestos cancer is suspected. In most cases, these imaging scans will be able to provide a picture of the tumor, but a biopsy will likely be required to determine a conclusive diagnosis of mesothelioma rather than other lung carcinomas. In cases where pleural or peritoneal effusions have manifested in the patient, draining these and extracting the fluid through pleurocentesis can allow oncologists to test the fluid for the presence of malignant cells.