Determining a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

A mesothelioma diagnosis is always shocking, as it is with any serious illness. Sometimes patients are quite surprised when they hear the news, and wonder how the diagnosis was reached. Understanding the precise steps your doctor went through to determine whether you have mesothelioma or not can reassure you that the diagnosis is correct and that your doctor knows as much as possible about your particular condition and mesothelioma stage.

A mesothelioma diagnosis is just the beginning – in fact, knowing what is wrong is simply the starting point for aggressive treatment to restore some level of health or comfort. Generally, a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma cancer isn’t made until you’ve had several tests to not only determine the problem but to rule out other possibilities that can have similar symptoms as mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis - CT Scan

  • Symptoms are the start. Very few people are diagnosed with mesothelioma simply because they present certain symptoms. This is because most mesothelioma symptoms can mimic those of other illnesses.
  • Personal history may indicate likelihood of exposure. That is, your personal and work history may reveal that you are at risk because you were exposed to asbestos long-term or in high concentrations at some point in your life. Because of the link between asbestos and mesothelioma, knowing about your exposure can aid your doctor in diagnosing you.
  • How to Diagnose Mesothelioma Cancer

  • X-rays are helpful but limited. They are helpful because they will indicate the presence of fluid in the lungs (called pleural effusion) or, sometimes, the presence of a mass or tumor in the lung tissue. This may indicate that a mesothelioma diagnosis is definitely a possibility, but it isn’t definitive because other diseases can also cause these problems.
  • CTs and MRIs are more specific. These two tests show the details of the affected area much more clearly than x-rays and can help determine whether the pleural area has thickened, calcified or been invaded by a tumor. CTs and MRIs are accurate enough to help determine which course of treatment is best for your mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.
  • Biopsies are definitive. The thought of a tissue biopsy can be frightening. Just the thought of having tissue removed from your body is disconcerting, but a biopsy of the suspected mesothelioma area will confirm the mesothelioma diagnosis and indicate how virulent it is and how far it has advanced in the body. One way of collecting tissue for a biopsy that is often used in the case of a mesothelioma diagnosis is the VATS (video assisted thoracoscopic surgery) procedure. VATS uses a tiny camera inserted through various tiny incisions in the chest to look for, biopsy and examine small sections of lung tissue.

After combining the information from all of these sources and reviewing them carefully, your doctor may diagnose mesothelioma. It’s important to remember, however, that the diagnosis is simply the beginning. From here, your doctor will work with a medical team put together to slow or reverse the progression of the disease and make you as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Don’t let a mesothelioma diagnosis defeat you – today new strides are being made every day.

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