Diagnosing Mesothelioma

When someone is experiencing symptoms related to mesothelioma they will need to go through a number of tests and procedure to determine if they are suffering from this type of cancer. It is always best to work with a specialist that has a great deal of expertise.

How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Individuals that are suffering from symptoms like continual coughing, shortness of breath, or even chest pains will want to be sure that they are consulting a doctor. After meeting with a physician, the process of determining the causes can start and treatment plan can begin.

Diagnostic Procedures

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Imaging Tests

These types of tests are used in order to find a tumor in your body. Tests used the most often will include X-rays, CT scans, PET scans and even MRIs.

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Blood-Marker Tests

You will find that there are a lot of different blood tests that can be done in order to see if you are suffering from cancer. It will then be possible for the doctor to determine which type of cancer is present and the type of treatment that is going to be the best.


This is when a piece of tissue, or even fluid, will be removed from a tumor in order to see if it is cancerous. Once the sample is taken it will be looked at underneath a microscope. This is a great way to identify and diagnose mesothelioma.

Diagnostic Imaging Tests

These types of tests are used first to identify mesothelioma. They are used to help determine anything that may be abnormal. They can also be used to help determine how far along the cancer is, or what stage it is in. All of the tests will have their very own purpose when it comes to cancer.

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X-Ray – This is a 2D test and will be used to help find the tumor as well as any buildup of fluid. It is used for each of the different types of mesothelioma.

Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan) – These are 3D and they will show things in much greater detail. It is often used when it comes to diagnosing pleural mesothelioma.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan (MRI) – MRIs give you a very detailed look at the tumor itself. You will also be able to determine the amount of damage to any of the soft tissue that surrounds the tumor. Many times this can help decide if it is possible for surgery to be completed.

Positron Emission Tomography Scan (PET) – PET scans can show cancer cells after the patient has been given a small amount of a radiopharmaceutical drug. When this test is used the doctor can also identify what stage the cancer is in.

Mesothelioma Biopsies

This is when tissue and even fluid is extracted and tested. It is a great way to determine if cancer cells are present in the body.

It is very important to carry out a histological makeup so that the appropriate type of treatment can be identified. Different makeups are going to have different reactions to treatment. Because of this, biopsies are very important.

Biopsy through Surgery

This is when tissue is removed from the patient. It will be sent to a professional pathologist to be studied. These tests can be completed through surgery or even through surgery that is assisted with a camera.

Different Procedures for Biopsies Include:

Thoracotomy – This is a traditional biopsy of the cavity in the chest of the patient. It is best for helping to discover a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. This kind of biopsy can give surgeons an actual look at what’s going on into the extent of the disease.

Thoracoscopy – A less invasive biopsy of the chest for pleural mesothelioma. This type of biopsy uses a camera to assist in its findings.

Laparotomy – The cavity of the abdomen will be the point of interest when it comes to this type of biopsy. It will be used when it comes to a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis.

Mediastinoscopy – This is a chest biopsy and it is an alternative method that can be used. There are times when this can be used rather than using thoracoscopy but it will depend on where the tumor is located.

Laparoscopy – A laparoscopy is also less invasive for a patient. It is used to help diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma. Again, a camera is used.

Non-Surgical Biopsies

These biopsies will include the removal of fluid. It is removed from the body with a needle and then a professional called a cytologist will look at the fluid to see if there are mesothelioma cells present. Although this is less invasive, it doesn’t allow doctors to get a first-hand look at the actual tumors in the patient.

Using Histopathology and Cytology

Once the biopsy has been completed it will be very important to identify what type of cancer you are dealing with. This can be done by using histopathology or cytology reports. Histopathology is used when tissue was removed through the biopsy. Cytology reports will be used if fluid was removed.

Misdiagnosing Mesothelioma

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There are a number of doctors that have never actually seen this type of cancer. That’s what can lead to a mesothelioma misdiagnosis. Symptoms are very similar to those that you may experience if you have a cold or the flu. In order to avoid being misdiagnosed, it is always important to work with a specialist as well as getting a second opinion.

Treatment for Mesothelioma After a Diagnosis

After a diagnosis has been made, a mesothelioma treatment plan can be determined. In many cases, if the cancer is in the early stages then surgery may be an option. Chemotherapy and radiation can be used with patients at any stage.

Multiple types of treatments used in conjunction with each other have also been shown to help increase survival rates. If you are willing to have more than one type of treatment, then you will be undergoing what is known as a multimodal treatment plan. This has been found to be very effective and there are even times when the patient may actually beat the odds.

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