How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Patients who are presenting symptoms such as persistent coughing, severe shortness of breath, or chest pains need to be seen by their doctor as soon as possible. While the symptoms mentioned above are frequently shared with many other issues, such as pneumonia or heart attack, they are also the primary symptoms of mesothelioma. After they see the physician and alert them to their symptoms and their concern that it could be mesothelioma, the diagnostic process begins and this will help to determine the causes of these symptoms as well as the development of a personalized treatment plan. Here are some of the tools and procedures used to deliver a diagnosis of mesothelioma:

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests are the first step in diagnosing mesothelioma. There are several types of tests available and each one renders a different type of image and each has different benefits that can be used in diagnosis.

  • X-Ray – renders a 2D image and shows fluid buildup and other signs of tissue damage or organ damage.
  • Computed Tomography Scan – CT scans produce 3D images and is used to get finer details of issues discovered on an X-Ray.
  • Positron Emission Tomography Scan – PET scans give a realistic 3D image of the interior of organs or masses.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan – MRIs are used to get detailed images of softer tissues or to look inside bones.

Blood and Biomarker Tests

These tests allow physicians to better diagnose the patient. These tests help determine the type of treatment that will be offered to the patient. They also aid in providing an accurate prognosis. Doctors may decide to conduct blood marker tests in addition to imaging and biopsy tests because blood tests can provide further details about the extent of the patient’s mesothelioma. These tests work by measuring the levels of certain biomarkers, a protein for example, that are present in healthy people as well as mesothelioma patients, that can then be studied and compared” (Mesothelioma Guide).  Some of the more notable blood tests are:

  • Mesomark—looks for soluble mesothelin related peptides (SMRPs) in the patient’s blood which is a strong indicator that there is active mesothelioma in the body.
  • Cancer Antigen 125 (CA125)—it is present in healthy individuals, but those who have mesothelioma will have much higher concentrations in their blood.

Mesothelioma Biopsies

A biopsy is when tissue is removed from the body in order to be examined and tested to see if there are cancerous cells present. Surgical biopsies are used to extract tissue from a patient. Blood and other fluids can also be extracted and examined to give a diagnosis as well. The various biopsy procedures are:

  • Thoracotomy – a biopsy done of the chest cavity.
  • Laparotomy –a biopsy of the abdominal cavity.
  • Thoracoscopy – a less invasive check of the chest cavity that uses a camera.
  • Laparoscopy – a less invasive check of the abdominal cavity that uses a camera.

Histopathology and Cytology Reports

“After a biopsy is taken, the next step is finding out if cancer is present and what type of cancer it is. Histopathology and cytology reports are used to study the tissue or fluid attained through biopsy. Histopathology reports are used for tissue biopsies and cytology reports are used for fluid biopsies” (Mesothelioma Guide).

When the final results are in then the diagnosis can be given and the patient will learn whether they have mesothelioma or not and if they do, they will begin to get an understanding of how severe a case it is and what they can do to cope with this new diagnosis.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or even believe that mesothelioma can be a possibility, please contact our mesothelioma lawyers today. We have the experience to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.