Mesothelioma - Diagnosis
 

TYPES

SYMPTOMS

DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT

LAWSUITS

HOMEPAGE




A diagnosis of mesothelioma is most often obtained with careful assessment of clinical and radiological findings in addition to a confirming tissue biopsy.

Some of the most commonly used imaging methods include:

  • X-ray

A chest x-ray can reveal pleural effusion (fluid build-up) which is confined to either the right (60%) or left (40%) lung. On occasion, a mass may be seen. Signs of prior non-cancerous asbestos disease, such as pleural plaques or pleural calcification, or scarring due to asbestosis may also be noted.

  • Computed Tomography (CT)

CT scans are also able to define pleural effusion, as well as pleural thickening, pleural calcification, thickening of interlobular fissures, or possible chest wall invasion. CT, however, is not able to differentiate between changes associated with benign asbestos disease (pleural disease), or differentiate between adenocarcinoma of the lung which may have spread to the pleura verses mesothelioma. CT scans may also be valuable in guiding fine needle aspiration of pleural masses for tissue diagnosis.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI scans are most often used to determine the extent of tumor prior to aggressive treatment. Because they provide images in multiple planes, they are better able to identify tumors as opposed to normal structures. They are also more accurate than CT scans in assessing enlargement of the mediastinal lymph nodes (those lymph nodes which lie between the two lungs), as well as a clear diaphragmatic surface, both of which play an important role in surgical candidacy.

  • Thoracoscopy

For pleural mesothelioma the doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut will be made through the chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs. This test is usually done in a hospital with a local anesthetic or painkiller.

  • Biopsy

If abnormal tissue is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and have it looked at under a microscope. This is usually done during the thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy, but can be done during surgery. More on needle biopsies.

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