How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

There are several diagnostic tools to confirm mesothelioma. These include blood tests, imaging tests, biopsies, and X-rays. There is no universal way to diagnosis each patient, as mesothelioma is rare and has very common symptoms, so it can easily be mistaken for a different disease.

The most common symptoms of mesothelioma are chest pain, abdominal pain, distension, and difficulty breathing. Anyone who has previously worked with asbestos should always be on the lookout for these symptoms.

Diagnosing the disease may involve a combination of several tests, such as CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans, accompanied with biopsies to check for cancerous cell growth.

First Steps

If you are experiencing mesothelioma symptoms, doctors will begin by inquiring about your medical history, any family history of lung cancer, as well as performing a standard physical exam. The doctor will definitely ask about any past exposure to asbestos.

If you have worked in a high-risk asbestos industry, like asbestos mining, shipbuilding, or construction, you can give the doctor some credence to your concerns that your symptoms may be related to asbestos.

Next Steps

Doctors will then follow up by ordering imaging tests to find any growths that look suspicious. If any unexpected growths show a mass that look as if it could be mesothelioma, the doctor will then follow up by ordering a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancerous cells. During this biopsy, fluid and tissue samples are extracted from the mass.

Several doctors are involved in this process. Starting with a general practitioner, you will then go on to a pulmonologist, then a radiologist for scan testings, a surgeon to remove any masses, and finally a pathologist to review the mass and an oncologist if it is cancerous. If any doctor along the way suspects mesothelioma may be a proper diagnosis, it is a good idea for you to get a second opinion from someone who specializes in mesothelioma. Mesothelioma specialists are experts in staging the cancer, as well as effectively treating it.

Possible Blood Tests

Researchers have recently spent time developing blood tests for mesothelioma. These blood tests run an analysis for proteins and biomarkers that mesothelioma patients have in their blood. While these tests can play a role in the diagnosis, they cannot be used on their own to confirm the disease. There are currently several blood tests available, but with their recent discovery, they are not 100% accurate.

Mesothelioma Treatment

While there is no cure, mesothelioma patients are able to improve their symptoms and prognosis with several treatments for mesothelioma, including radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

Radiation is one of the most longstanding treatments for mesothelioma. These treatments shrink the tumors in order to increase the effectiveness of other treatments.

Surgery may be required, depending on the location of the mass, as well as the stage of the cancer. Your overall health is also a factor in your candidacy for surgery.

During chemotherapy, cancer cells are targeted and killed, preventing them from spreading and multiplying in the body.

Clinical trials have begun to test some newer therapies such as immunotherapy and phototherapy. This may be an option if the previous methods of treatment have not yielded results. In addition, other palliative treatments may be used to ease pain and suffering during the process.