Determining Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
To determine a mesothelioma diagnosis, doctors first have to rule out other, more common conditions that may be causing the symptoms. If doctors still suspect that mesothelioma could be present, they will do more in-depth tests to see if cancer cells are present.
Mesothelioma is diagnosed by:
- Monitoring initial symptoms: Initial mesothelioma symptoms, such as a dry cough, difficulty breathing, or loss of weight and appetite, are typically mild and mimic symptoms of other more common health issues. These symptoms only worsen as the cancer grows.
- Conducting early tests: To rule out other possible diseases, doctors may use imaging tests, such as an X-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan, and take blood samples to look for signs of cancer.
- Confirming a diagnosis: The only way to completely confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis is by taking a biopsy (samples of fluid and/or tissue) of the affected area. Biopsies allow doctors to study the samples under a microscope to see if mesothelioma cells are present.
If you suspect that mesothelioma may be the cause of your symptoms, talk to your doctor about your history of asbestos exposure. Doctors can use this information to look for other medical problems.
Quick Facts About Diagnosing Mesothelioma
- Mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed until 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos.
- Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, according to information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
- Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are 65 years old or older.
- Mesothelioma can sometimes be diagnosed in younger adults, including teenagers and children, as noted in case studies from the Journal of Pediatric Surgery and the peer-reviewed journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences.