To detect and diagnose mesothelioma, you and your doctor must be aware of the symptoms and risk factors. Symptoms normally do not develop for 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Many people are not even aware that they have been exposed. Further complicating the problem, mesothelioma symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses.

Risk Factors

If you have worked in a high-risk job or industry or if you have lived with someone who was working in a high risk environment, you should request mesothelioma screening if you have any of the symptoms. High-risk work environments include:

  • Construction
  • Shipyards
  • Mining
  • Oil refineries
  • Railroads
  • Demolition
  • Auto manufacturing and repair
  • Small appliance manufacturing

Older homes and buildings are often a source of asbestos exposure.


According to the National Cancer Institute, symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough or a change in cough pattern
  • Blood in the fluid coughed up from the lungs
  • Pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Prolonged hoarseness
  • Significant weight loss

Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed as common, less harmful illnesses or health problems including:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Broken ribs
  • Laryngitis

Screening and Diagnosis

There are several steps to diagnosing mesothelioma. Your doctor will start out by simply listening to your lungs with a stethoscope. He will be listening for the crackling and high pitch sounds common in asbestos related illness.

If a problem is suspected, you will need X-rays a CT scan. X-rays can be useful, but they may not provide enough information. A CT scan is similar to an X-ray, but it gives a much more detailed 3-D picture. Many facilities are not equipped to perform CT scans, so your doctor may recommend an X-ray first to save you time, money, and travel.

Your doctor may also want to test your lung performance in a pulmonary function test (PFT). This will measure how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly they move the air in and out, and how much oxygen is transferred into your bloodstream.

Finally, if mesothelioma is still suspected, you will need a biopsy. In a biopsy a small piece of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to see if it is cancerous. A biopsy is more invasive than the other tests, so your doctor will normally recommend it as a last step in diagnosis.

If you believe that you've become ill because of asbestos exposure in the workplace, call (877) 724-7017 or email our Mobile, Alabama mesothelioma lawyers today for your free consultation, and ask how we can help you get the compensation you need.