Mesothelioma is considered a difficult cancer to diagnose. This is because it can take 10-50 years after exposure to asbestos for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear. Additionally, when symptoms do emerge, they tend to be mistaken for less serious conditions, leading to a delay in diagnosis.

In a recent case study published in Cureus, doctors who treated a 63-year-old carpenter in New York City detailed his symptoms and journey to get a mesothelioma diagnosis.

The doctors hope their explanation of the tests and presentation of the patient’s disease will help other clinicians detect similar cases of mesothelioma earlier, especially in people who have an elevated risk of asbestos exposure.

Read more about the case study and how to get a diagnosis if you or a loved one is experiencing similar symptoms.

Troubling Symptoms Lead to First Doctor Visit

Over 3 months, the patient experienced several disruptive symptoms that led him to make an appointment with his primary care physician.

His symptoms included:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dramatic weight loss (10 pounds)
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarse voice
  • Night sweats
  • White sputum (mucus) in cough

At this initial visit, his doctor ordered a chest X-ray. The right side of his chest appeared completely white in the image. After the chest X-ray, the patient’s doctor urged him to go to the emergency room.

Learn more about mesothelioma symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment in our Free Mesothelioma Guide.

Biopsies Confirm Pleural Mesothelioma

At the emergency room, the medical staff found his pulse, oxygen intake, and blood pressure were normal.

However, a review of the X-ray and a more detailed computed tomography (CT) scan confirmed the presence of severe fluid buildup (pleural effusion) on the right side of his chest.

The team ordered an emergency thoracentesis, a minimally invasive procedure that uses a thin needle to drain the fluid, and video-assistive technology to retrieve tissue samples after draining the fluid.

These samples were then sent to a lab, where biopsies confirmed the patient had pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma, which affects the lung lining.

A review of the man’s medical records also identified potential long-term exposure to asbestos — the only known cause of this cancer — during his work as a carpenter.

A Hopeful Outlook for Long-Term Survival

The man’s medical team was optimistic that treatment could help improve his mesothelioma prognosis (expected health outcome).

“The overall prognosis of our patient is positive due to good overall clinical health.”

- Clinical team caring for the patient

In addition to his good overall health, his cancer had not spread beyond the lining of the lungs. After examining the patient’s tumor, his doctors determined it was mostly made up of epithelioid cells, which spread more slowly and are easier to treat than other cell types.

His care team recommended mesothelioma treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. He would receive surgery to drain the fluid buildup in his lung lining, followed by a combination of the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin, pemetrexed, and bevacizumab.

At the time of the case study, the doctors remained hopeful that the patient would respond well to treatment and live longer as a result.

Helping Patients Get an Accurate Diagnosis and Effective Treatment

While advancements have been made in recent years, mesothelioma is still difficult to diagnose. With symptoms that may resemble other less serious conditions and the rarity of the disease, it can take months for patients to receive an accurate diagnosis.

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and is experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, you don’t have to navigate this journey by yourself.

Mesothelioma Hope can help you understand symptoms and find a mesothelioma specialist who can provide an accurate diagnosis. Our Patient Advocates can also help you access financial resources and other personalized support so you can afford the most effective treatment.

Request our Free Mesothelioma Guide or call our Patient Advocates at (866) 608-8933 now.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Qasim A, Allu S, Schmidt P, et al. (2024, January 24, 2024) Comprehensive Review of Mesothelioma Cases: From Diagnosis to Therapeutic Strategies. Cureus. Retrieved February 14, 2024, from!/

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