You have the best chances of surviving mesothelioma if your treatment starts before the cancer starts spreading.
That means you should have surgery, chemotherapy or radiation while your mesothelioma is still in an early stage.
The trouble is that you can’t be treated for mesothelioma at all until your doctor discovers you have it. For many, mesothelioma isn’t diagnosed until it’s in an advanced stage.
There’s a reason it often gets diagnosed late. This happens because the early symptoms don’t always look like mesothelioma symptoms. They look like cold or flu symptoms. Or they look like symptoms of other ordinary illnesses.
As a result, many people who have mesothelioma in the early stage wait a long time before they finally go see the doctor. They wait because they think the cough or chest congestion or pain will go away on its own after a while.
Only when the problem doesn’t clear up on its own do they go to the doctor for help. That’s when they find out its mesothelioma. But by then, the mesothelioma is already far along.
Some Asbestos Workers Are Monitored for Mesothelioma
In Poland, they have a system set up to deal with this. People who worked with asbestos are required by law to be given free medical monitoring.
Medical monitoring basically means keeping a sharp watch on those at risk of eventually developing a particular disease. This is done so the disease can be caught and treated early.
Here, the disease being watched for is mesothelioma. Health officials in Poland know that anyone who worked with asbestos in the past is at risk for mesothelioma in the future.
Researchers from Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, say that medical monitoring has been helpful to a lot of people exposed to asbestos in that country.
They wrote about the effects of Poland’s medical monitoring law in the online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The title of their article is “Medical Monitoring of Asbestos-Exposed Workers: Experience from Poland.”
The World Health Organization pushed for Poland to do medical monitoring as a way to help deal with the problems of mesothelioma and other diseases due to asbestos exposure.
Poland’s medical monitoring is handled by the national Ministry of Health. The service is known there as the Amiantus Program.
Mesothelioma Drugs Are Free to Some Workers Exposed to Asbestos
The medical monitoring is offered mainly to people who worked at Poland’s asbestos processing plants. They get free medical exams that look specifically for signs of mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis. They also get free mesothelioma treatment drugs if they’re found to have the disease.
The government gets something out of this too. It gets a way to know how many people actually were exposed to asbestos and where the exposure happened.
The researchers say that this information helps a doctor be more confident about giving a mesothelioma diagnosis. That confidence lets doctors make the correct diagnosis faster.
It’s not known if such a program would work in the U.S. It’s also not known if Congress is even considering the idea.
But one thing is certain. You should go see your doctor right away if you were ever exposed to asbestos.
Tell your doctor you want to be checked to see if you have mesothelioma. And don’t let a clean bill of health stop you from coming back to your doctor for a mesothelioma checkup at least once a year.
Remember. The earlier you can discover mesothelioma, the better your chances of beating it back.