A diagnosis of mesothelioma is typically preceded by a patient noticing one or more symptoms of the disease, including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, difficulty swallowing, or weight loss. But a mesothelioma diagnosis based on symptoms alone can be tricky since early symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to other conditions – and half of patients exhibit no early symptoms at all.
How is a Mesothelioma Diagnosis Made?
At your first appointment, your doctor will create a medical history by asking questions about your symptoms, your occupational history, and any past exposure to asbestos. He or she will also perform a physical exam to identify more subtle signs of mesothelioma, such as breathing sounds that indicate fluid in the chest or abdomen.
If any of these signs are present, your doctor may request other tests to confirm the mesothelioma diagnosis and to locate the cancer and determine its size and spread. These tests include:
X-rays: A chest X-ray might indicate an irregular thickening in the pleura, deposits of calcium on the pleura, or fluid in the chest cavity – all of which can help confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
CT scans: Computed tomography (CT) scans can often show pleural thickening and help determine the extent of the cancer’s spread. For this reason, CT scans are an important tool in the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
PET scans: In this mesothelioma diagnosis test, the patient receives an injection of radioactive molecules, which helps highlight tumor growth in the body.
MRI scans: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which are similar to CT scans, are often used to examine the diaphragm, brain, and spinal cord.
Needle biopsy: In this mesothelioma diagnosis method, a surgeon or medical oncologist removes a small piece of suspicious tissue, which is examined by a pathologist for cancerous cells.
Fluid testing. If fluid has collected in the chest or abdominal cavity, the doctor may take a sample of the fluid and test it for the presence of cancer cells.
Blood tests. Blood work may also be performed to identify a certain protein called osteopontin and soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs). These substances are often elevated in people with a confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis.
Are You Living with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?
If you or a loved one has been given a mesothelioma diagnosis, call Sokolove Law today at 888-360-4215 to find out if a mesothelioma lawyer can help you.