How Do Doctor's Diagnose Mesothelioma?
The first step to diagnosing mesothelioma is a complete evaluation of a patient's medical history to determine symptoms and any past asbestos exposure, as well as a complete physical. In addition, physicians may request an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or an X-ray of the abdomen or chest region to help determine the location and size of the tumor.
In cases of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, fluid (effusion) may collect in the chest or abdominal region. Physicians may use a procedure known as fine needle aspiration to obtain a sample of this fluid for further testing. In addition, this procedure can be used to drain the effusion to temporarily relieve chest pain or other symptoms.
Usually, a biopsy of the tumor is required to make a diagnosis, however, sometimes only a fluid sample is needed. Below are a number of procedures commonly used.
In a case of peritoneal mesothelioma the doctor will use a tool called a peritoneoscope, which will be placed inside an opening made in the patient's abdomen. If fluid is found in the abdomen it will be drained through a process called paracentesis, which requires a needle to be placed inside the abdomen in order to extract the fluid.
In diagnosing pleural mesothelioma a doctor may use a special instrument called a thoracoscope in order to examine the patient's chest cavity. This test requires an incision to be made in the chest wall, which will be used to place the thoracoscope between the patient's ribs. If the doctor finds fluid collected in a patient's chest, it will be drained out of the chest cavity through a needle. This test commonly requires anesthetic or another form of pain suppression.
If cancerous tissue is found in the patient's lungs or abdomen it will be extracted and examined by the doctor. This process helps the doctor determine potential ways of treatment and is usually done during the above two processes or may require additional surgery.