Diagnosing mesothelioma can be extremely difficult. The symptoms of this rare cancer may be confused with a variety of other diseases and illnesses – some serious and others very common and benign. Thus, many misdiagnosed mesothelioma patients suffer through months of painful symptoms before receiving a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately for some, a proper mesothelioma diagnosis is not made until the patients are in the final stages of the cancer, severely limiting their treatment options.
As soon as you or your doctor suspects a mesothelioma diagnosis, you should seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the sooner you can begin proper treatments, some of which are only available when mesothelioma is caught in an early stage.
Why is a second opinion important in mesothelioma?
Because mesothelioma is an uncommon type of cancer with a very specific cause — asbestos exposure — not many doctors have experience diagnosing or treating it. Mesothelioma misdiagnosis is common because the symptoms are shared by many other diseases and less serious afflictions.
“Most physicians only see one to two [mesothelioma] cases in their career. If a patient is diagnosed by a physician who doesn’t see a lot of mesothelioma, a second opinion is a great idea,” Dr. David Rice, a professor in surgery who conducts mesothelioma treatment research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explained in an article for EverydayHealth.com. “In my opinion, a patient should always want to be seen at a center that has a lot of experience with this disease.”
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer, and the later the diagnosis, the worse the prognosis can be. That’s why getting a second opinion is so important. Whether your primary care doctor has made the mesothelioma diagnosis, or you are experiencing symptoms and are concerned about a mesothelioma misdiagnosis, seeking out a second opinion from an experienced mesothelioma specialist will help you get a grasp on the best treatment options available.