Obtaining a diagnosis of the condition known as lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) can be a challenge according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the United States National Library of Medicine. According to the NCBI, the main challenge for young and middle age females is to consider the diagnosis of the following conditions: pneumothorax, dyspnea, or obstructive lung disease.
In the case of young women who do not smoke, the following method to diagnose the condition would be a high-resolution CT scan of the chest. This method of diagnosing is to see if LAM can be considered amongst the lung diseases that can produce cystic changes. An MRI is also recommended as a means to rule out the possibility of the condition of TSC.
National Jewish Health, on its entry on LAM, explains that there have been improvements made to diagnose the condition at an early stage. The first means of diagnosing would be going through the simple questions and answers with your doctor. You may be asked about how long you have had the symptoms of LAM and/or if they have gotten worse over time. Afterward, you will be going through a series of tests. The tests are to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms to LAM.
One of the tests is the HRCT (high-resolution CT scan) which is explained by the NCBI's entry on LAM. National Jewish Health's entry on LAM considers the HRCT as the most useful imaging test.
Asides from the HRCT scan, other tests would be the following: lung function testing, blood testing, pulse oximetry, and the chest x-ray. The lung function test is to see how much hair you breathe in and out from your lungs. The chest x-ray will show the stages of LAM in regards to showing the cysts within the lungs.
But, you may go through more procedures. This is in case the doctor wants more information before diagnosing you with LAM. One procedure would be video-assisted thoracosopy in which the doctor takes out a few small pieces of lung tissue. You may end up going through other biopsies as well if the doctor requires more information.
As for treatment of LAM, there are no methods to stop the growth of cysts in the lungs. But, there is the ongoing study of using rapmycin to improve lung functions of those with LAM. Originally, the drug was used to shrink kidney tumors of those diagnosed with LAM. While there are no treatments to stop the growth of cysts, there are still treatments.
The following treatments are available: medicines that make breathing easier, medicines that prevent bone loss (due to LAM increasing a person's chance of getting osteoporosis), rapamycin, oxygen therapy, fluid removal, lung transplant (for those who have advanced LAM), and hormone therapy.
One should know that LAM is a rare disease. While it mostly affects women, there is still the small chance that men could get affected. Luckily, those with early stages of LAM can go on with normal activities. But, that gets more difficult as the condition progresses. You should have a healthy lifestyle and diet. Plus, you should be careful on where you travel.