Doctors often have a difficult time reaching a conclusive diagnosis of mesothelioma, as many of the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma are shared by or similar to other diseases. Diagnosis usually begins by looking at a person’s medical history and any history of asbestos exposure. If a person has had previous asbestos exposure and any of the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma are present a physical exam will then be conducted as well as lung function tests and possibly chest and abdominal x-rays. This is usually followed by a CT scan or MRI which will allow the doctor to see if the linings of the lungs, linings of the abdominal cavity and the linings of the heart appear thick. If these linings look abnormally think it is often indicative of mesothelioma and biopsies are often the next step in diagnosing.
Different types of biopsies are needed for each of the three main types of mesothelioma. Doctors try to use the least invasive biopsy necessary to conclusively diagnose or rule out mesothelioma. A biopsy to determine the presence of pleural mesothelioma is often done by testing the pleural fluid through thoracentesis or tube thoracostomy. A biopsy to determine the presence of peritoneal mesothelioma is often done by testing the ascites fluid through paracentesis or asceitic drain. Finally, a biopsy to determine the precesne of pericardial mesothelioma is often done by testing the pericardial fluid through pericardial effusion with pericardiocenteisis. In all cases the fluids are tested for malignant cells which would indicate mesothelioma.
If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the next step is to discuss treatment options with your doctor and develop a treatment plan. There have been recent breakthroughs in medical treatment for all types of mesothelioma. There are traditional treatments as well as experimental treatments, alternative therapies, and clinical trials available for some types of mesothelioma patients to participate in.