It will take a medical professional several steps to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis. First, they will conduct a physical exam. Second, they will conduct imaging tests. Finally, they may conduct cytology and biopsy testing.
The doctor will start with wanting to know the patient’s health history. Let the doctor know if you suspect an exposure to asbestos. Since exposure for even a short time can cause mesothelioma, the patient should tell the physician about any possible exposure, even if it happened decades ago, or it was only second-hand exposure through the clothing of a family member who worked with asbestos.
During the exam, the doctor may include a lung function test, which allows them to diagnose a number of lung diseases and gauge the severity of any lung problem.
Imaging and Diagnostic Tests
The physician’s next step in reaching a mesothelioma diagnosis is to conduct one or several imaging tests, such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan or PET scan. These tests can help the doctor to confirm whether a cancer is present and its location, size, and type. The images will also show whether any cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other parts of the body.
Biopsy and Cytology Tests
A physical exam and images are helpful to determine preliminary indications, but they are not sufficient for a mesothelioma diagnosis. To be certain, the physician will conduct a biopsy, where they remove tissue from the patient’s body for a pathologist to review under a microscope. The pathologist will determine whether mesothelioma is present and what types of cells are involved.
In some cases, the examination of individual or small clusters of cells – called cytology or cytopathology – may be used to diagnose mesothelioma. These cells are often found in fluid drawn from a patient’s body.