Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly cancer that develops in the thin tissue lining, known as the mesothelium, covering most of your internal organs. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause for up to 80% of all cases. 

Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma has different types depending on the affected part of the mesothelium. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the tissue around the lungs. Another type is peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal lining. Rarely, mesothelioma can also occur around the heart and testicles.

Various diagnostic methods are used to identify mesothelioma accurately. Before delving into these methods, let’s explore the symptoms associated with different types of mesothelioma. 

Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma 

Specific manifestations of mesothelioma should never be overlooked, as they vary depending on the cancer’s location. Recognizing and addressing these symptoms promptly can aid in diagnosing the specific type of mesothelioma.

For example, pleural mesothelioma may reflect symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, painful coughing, unexplained weight loss, and unusual chest skin lumps. In contrast, peritoneal mesothelioma typically includes symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal swelling. 

All doctors agree that early mesothelioma diagnosis can improve patient outcomes and increase the chances of more prolonged survival when patients receive treatment from experienced doctors. Thankfully, at Mesothelioma Hope, you can find experienced mesothelioma doctors who specialize in treating different types of mesothelioma. They will ensure that you are getting the best treatment plan. 

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma 

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, your doctor will use the following diagnostic tests to confirm further:


The most reliable method for diagnosing mesothelioma is through a biopsy. A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that involves extracting small tissue or fluid samples from various areas in the body, such as the skin, organs, and structures. After collecting the sample, a medical pathologist examines it under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer cells. This tissue sample helps the doctor identify the type of cancer cells and determines the cancer stage, allowing for the development of a more appropriate treatment plan.

There are several types of biopsies, and the choice of biopsy method for diagnosis depends on the tumor’s location and the patient’s tolerance. Each type of biopsy procedure differs: 

  • Fine needle aspiration, also known as cytology, involves inserting a thin or hollow needle into the skin to extract tissue or fluid from a suspicious mass within your body. This method is typically used for swellings and lumps beneath the skin’s surface. Doctors often recommend fine needle aspiration for various conditions, including cysts (fluid-filled lumps), enlarged lymph nodes, nodules, or solid masses. It is considered the least invasive type of biopsy.
  • Thoracoscopy is best for the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma. Incisions are made on the chest, and a biopsy sample is extracted from the lung lining. 
  • Laparoscopy helps diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma by making small incisions in the abdomen and inserting a laparoscope to collect tissue samples.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan:

Many doctors use CT scans, or CAT scans, for cancer diagnosis. Additionally, CT scans can provide valuable information about cancer post-diagnosis. This imaging technique involves capturing X-ray images of the inside of your body from various angles. A computer then combines these images to create a detailed three-dimensional representation that reveals tumors and abnormalities.

CT scans play a crucial role in determining the stage of cancer, guiding treatment plans, and predicting recovery outcomes. These scans are commonly performed on the chest, abdomen, pelvis, neck, head, and limbs. 

Past History and Physical Examination 

Your doctor will ask you questions and conduct a physical examination to assess your risk of mesothelioma and gather more information about your health history. Asbestos exposure is a major risk factor for mesothelioma development, so doctors consider it crucial to inquire about the patient’s exposure to potential risk factors. Occupational history is particularly important, as asbestos exposure often occurs in the workplace.

The doctor may also inquire about your family’s medical history and your medical background. Additionally, physical examinations are performed to detect any signs of cancer and monitor your current health status. 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging test that utilizes large magnets and radio waves to create detailed computer-generated images of nearly all internal body structures. Unlike X-rays and other forms of radiation, MRI does not use radiation for imaging, making it a painless procedure. In some MRI scans, injectable contrast dyes may be used to enhance tissue visibility in the images.

This imaging test can detect tumors, determine their size and location, and assess their malignancy. The resulting images may guide doctors in deciding whether further diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, are necessary. Doctors can plan appropriate treatments after identifying cancer through an MRI, such as radiation therapy or surgery. 

Blood Tests

Blood tests alone cannot diagnose mesothelioma. Typically, doctors recommend that they rule out other cancers and confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma. They are often used with other diagnostic tools, such as biopsies and imaging scans, to enhance diagnostic accuracy. Additionally, three blood tests for mesothelioma can detect biomarkers, which are molecules cancer cells produce. These tests include the MESOMARK assay, N-ERC/Mesothelin, and Fibulin-3. Some doctors may also use blood tests to assess the functioning of your kidneys, liver, bone marrow, and thyroid. 

Bottom line

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer of mesothelial tissue, often linked to asbestos exposure. Early diagnosis is crucial for better outcomes and an increased life expectancy. Common diagnostic tools for mesothelioma include blood tests, biopsies, MRIs, and more, which help ensure an accurate diagnosis. 

In the fight against mesothelioma, timely diagnosis opens the door to a range of treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Moreover, it empowers patients and their healthcare teams to develop tailored treatment plans that can maximize the chances of success. Many diagnostic tools are at the forefront of this battle against mesothelioma. These tools, which include blood tests, biopsies, MRIs, and more, play a pivotal role in ensuring an accurate diagnosis

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