Can malignant mesothelioma be found early?


Mesothelioma is uncommon, and there are no widely recommended screening tests for
this cancer in people who are not at increased risk. (Screening is testing for cancer in
people who don't have any symptoms.)
For people with known exposure to asbestos, some doctors recommend imaging tests
such as chest x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans to look for changes in the lungs
that might be signs of mesothelioma or lung cancer. But it is not clear how useful these
tests are in finding mesotheliomas early.
In recent years, doctors have found that people with mesothelioma often have high levels
of certain substances in their blood, including osteopontin and soluble mesothelin-related
peptides (SMRPs). Blood tests for these substances may one day be useful in finding
mesotheliomas early, although right now they are used mainly to monitor the course of
the disease in people who are already known to have mesothelioma.
Most mesotheliomas are found when a person goes to a doctor because of symptoms.
People who have been exposed to asbestos should know the possible signs and symptoms
of mesothelioma (see the section, “How is malignant mesothelioma diagnosed?”). Many
of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than mesothelioma,
but it's important to report any new symptoms to your doctor right away so that the cause
can be found and treated, if needed.

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