Mesothelioma Diagnosis

As with all diseases, a doctor begins the mesothelioma diagnosis by doing a complete physical exam and reviewing your medical history. Because mesothelioma is almost always attributable to asbestos exposure, you should report the extent, if any, of your exposure to your doctor.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms associated with mesothelioma occur as a result of fluid build-up in the lungs, chest cavity or abdomen. Frequently, mesothelioma victims suffer from persistent cough, chest pain, back pain, shortness of breath, an enlarged abdomen and hoarseness.

Medical Tests and Diagnosis
Untreated mesothelioma symptoms will eventually become more severe. When a doctor suspects mesothelioma, he/she may order an MRI, CT scan and/or x-ray to determine if there is any fluid build-up in the chest cavity. If it turns out that the chest or abdomen is congested with fluid, the doctor will generally perform a fine needle aspiration by inserting a needle into the chest cavity in order to remove excess fluid, which will be examined for malignant cells.

Usually doctors follow up on the fluid sample with a biopsy. If mesothelioma is suspected but not confirmed by the biopsy, an additional procedure called a bronchoscopy may be performed, during which a tube with a tiny camera on the end is inserted through the nose or mouth into the lungs. In some circumstances, a surgeon may open the chest or abdominal cavity.

Identifying the Stages of Mesothelioma
In order to make treatment decisions, your doctor may perform additional tests to determine if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This process is known as staging. When mesothelioma is found in the lining of the chest cavity near the lung, heart or diaphragm without spreading, the cancer is considered localized and is categorized as Stage I.

Advanced mesothelioma that has spread beyond these locations is defined as Stages II, III, or IV depending on how far the malignant cancer has spread. Mesothelioma is considered recurrent when the malignant growth reappears following treatment.

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