How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?


How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma mimic several other types of diseases, so diagnosing this deadly cancer can be challenging. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer in the thin layer of tissue that covers most of your internal organs. It most often occurs in the lung or abdominal tissue.

Signs and Symptoms

Pleural Mesothelioma (lung tissue)

  • Chest Pain
  • Persistent Painful Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Lumps of tissue under the chest skin
  • Unexplained weight loss

Peritoneal Mesothelioma (abdominal tissue)

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Swelling of the Abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained Weight Loss

First Steps to Diagnosis

The doctor will schedule a physical exam to check for any lumps or other unusual signs.

To look for abnormalities or fluid build ups, they may also request chest X-rays or a CT scan of your chest or abdomen. Based on the findings, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Mesothelioma Biopsy

A diagnostic biopsy is the most accurate method of diagnosing mesothelioma. Several types of biopsies can be performed.

Fine-Needle Aspiration- Under local anesthesia, a patient will be placed in a CT scan machine, and a small, thin needle is inserted between the patient’s ribs to take a tumor sample.

Mediastinoscopy-A surgeon inserts a small camera into the patient’s neck base to take pictures of the lymph nodes near the windpipe.

Thoracentesis- Using an ultrasound probe while the patient is under local anesthesia, a small needle is inserted between the ribs in the patient’s back to remove fluid buildup around the lungs.

Thoracoscopy- While a patient is under general anesthesia, a surgeon inserts a small camera between the ribs to remove the fluid, examine the inside of the chest, and take tissue samples.

The medical lab will analyze the tissue sample to determine if mesothelioma is present. When abnormal DNA cells accumulate, they can form tumors and lead to mesothelioma.

How Mesothelioma Spreads

Fibers from the toxic asbestos mineral can become airborne when asbestos is broken up during mining, manufacturing, or asbestos insulation removal. If the asbestos dust is inhaled or swallowed, the needle-like fibers can settle into the lungs or stomach and irritate. Since the fibers are indestructible, they remain lodged in the linings of the organs and spread slowly to other areas of the body. It may take as long as 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop.

If the tissue biopsy confirms a mesothelioma diagnosis, the doctor will likely recommend CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, or positron emission tomography tests to see how far cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or other areas of your body. The results of the imaging tests will help determine the type of mesothelioma and your stage of cancer.

If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, you are likely entitled to compensation to help with medical costs and treatments. Contact Goldberg Persky & White P.C. today.


“Treatment By Cancer Types” National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2008). [Link]
Boutin, C, Rey, F, “Thoracoscopy in pleural malignant mesothelioma: A prospective study of 188 consecutive patients.” Pubmed (1993). [Link]
“Mesothelioma” Mayo Clinic [Link]
“Mesothelioma Diagnosis” Cancer Net (2020). [Link]




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