When symptoms of mesothelioma are present, a thorough medical examination must be done. Additionally, the patient’s medical history must be evaluated, and any past exposure to asbestos must be considered. Special testing such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and biopsies may be needed in order to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma cause a build of up fluid – also known as effusion – in the abdomen or chest. Doctors often use fine needle aspiration to obtain samples of the fluid for testing, and may even use this procedure to drain the fluid and make the patient more comfortable.
Common tests that are done to help confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis include:
Thoracoscopy – In this procedure, the physician may use a specific type of instrument colled a thoracoscope to visually examine the chest cavity. The doctor will make a small cut in the chest wall in between the ribs and insert the scope. At this time, fine needle aspiration can be done if the patient has fluid in the chest cavity.
Peritoneoscopy – If the doctor suspects peritoneal mesothelioma, a special instrument called a peritoneoscope is used to visually explore the abdomen. Fluid found in the abdominal cavity can be trained through the process known as paracentesis.
Biopsy – A doctor who suspects mesothelioma may surgically extract a tissue sample for further testing and confirmation of diagnosis.
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