Diagnosing mesothelioma is relatively difficult. There are several doctors who are still not familiar with its symptoms for it is difficult to diagnose because of its latency period between contraction and visibility of symptoms. It may even be obvious at a later stage when the patient is no longer curable.
Pleural mesothelioma patients’ symptoms are also similar to many different illnesses and diseases that make it hard to diagnose. Such symptoms include lower back pains, chest pains, shortness of breath, excessive perspiration, trouble swallowing, vomiting, nausea, weight loss and tiredness which greatly affect the respiratory system and can result to building up of fluid in the lung lining and abdominal lining. This condition is called the peritoneal mesothelioma.
To be able to diagnose mesothelioma, CT or MRI scans and followed by biopsies are needed.
Making an examination on the fluid inside the lungs is not enough to get a sure diagnosis. That is why a small operation called the pleural biopsy is required where it gets a tissue sample and biopsy of it is taken. When the person has peritoneal mesothelioma, a tissue from the abdomen is taken for the biopsy.
Though biopsy procedures are very effective ways of mesothelioma diagnosis, there are also other procedures that doctors may perform. Such procedures include imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans. The doctor can easily see the area affected that has a potential of acquiring the disease. A needle may be then used to remove the fluid from the affected area and perform test procedures to examine if there are malignant cells. However, this kind of test is inconclusive and most of the time, doctors still perform a tissue biopsy to make sure.
A tissue biopsy can be done using a thoracoscopy or laparoscopy where a small camera is inserted into a cut to see the affected area. A tissue can be taken out as a sample and then examined later on by a pathologist for possible signs of mesothelioma. Another way to get a tissue sample is the needle biopsy where a deep needle is inserted into the skin and into the chest cavity where a sample tissue can be collected and examined by a pathologist as well.
Most physicians recommend an open biopsy more for this collects a larger tissue sample, making the diagnosis easier and more reliable. Once the tissue is collected, an examination is made in order to look for malignant cells in the tissue. More scans are performed in order to know the extent of the disease and preferred treatment.
Thus, letting your doctor know about whether you have been exposed to asbestos in the past or present will make the job easier for him or her. The doctor may get confused with your symptoms and may test for other diseases first before testing it directly for mesothelioma. Once your doctor knows that you are exposed to asbestos, he or she will have a head start on where to start your diagnosis. The test can be performed much earlier and preferred treatment will be given to you right away.