Diagnosis

Sometimes, it is difficult to tell the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer. If a patient has symptoms that could be mesothelioma, the doctor will test for fever and high blood pressure and check general signs of health. The patient will likely have one or more of the following tests:

Physical Exam - An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits, exposure to asbestos, past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Chest X-Ray - An x-ray the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) - A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the number of red and white blood cells, the number of platelets, the amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells and the portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.

Sedimentation Rate - A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the rate at which the red blood cells settle to the bottom of the test tube.

Biopsy - The removal of cells or tissue from the pleura or peritoneum so they can be viewed under a microscope. There are different biopsy procedures. Following are the most common:

Fine-Needle (FNA) Aspiration of the Lung - The removal or tissue or fluid using a thin needle. An imaging procedure is used to locate the abnormal tissue or fluid in the lung.

Thoracoscopy - An incision is made between two ribs and the thoracoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument) is inserted into the chest.

Peritoneoscopy - An incision is made in the abdominal wall and a peritoneoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument) is inserted into the abdomen.

Laparotomy - An incision is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of disease.

Thoracotomy - An incision is made between two ribs to check inside the chest for signs of disease.

Bronchoscopy - A procedure to look inside the trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea and lungs.

Cytologic Exam - An exam of cells under a microscope to check for anything abnormal. For mesothelioma, fluid is taken from around the lungs or from the abdomen.

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions. Please see Newly Diagnosed  for information on being patient active, treatment decisions, partnering with your healthcare team and finding support. 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Please see Caregivers and/or Online Support for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.

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