Diagnostic Testing for Malignant Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an extremely rare condition. With only 3,500 cases diagnosed each year, very few general practitioners have ever actually seen a patient who has the disease. This makes diagnosis extremely difficult.

Reacting to Your Symptoms

Mesothelioma’s earliest symptoms are extremely similar to those of other, less dangerous conditions. This can lead to a dangerous delay in diagnosis. Even when diagnostic testing is ordered, it is usually an X-ray to determine whether you have fluid in your lungs. When fluid is detected the doctor will likely assume that you have pneumonia and will prescribe an antibiotic to clear it up. This treatment may help your immediate symptoms, but it only delays the inevitable, as the fluid will eventually return, leading to further testing. If you are aware that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, make sure you tell your physician to avoid wasting time: the earlier they know about your exposure, the sooner appropriate testing can be ordered and treatment can begin.

Once Mesothelioma is Suspected

The diagnostic tests that are ordered when mesothelioma is suspected consist of blood tests, imaging tests and pathology testing of tissue samples.

  • Blood Tests – Research has shown that people who have malignant mesothelioma have unusual proteins and genetic material in their blood. Though the presence of these substances does not provide a firm diagnosis, it is one of the earliest indications that the cancer is present. These tests include the MESOMARK, the SOMAmer, and the Human MPF. Positive tests identify mesothelioma with a certainty ranging from about 70% to 90%, while negative tests can rule out mesothelioma with a certainty of over 90%.
  • Imaging Tests — Diagnostic imaging tests provide medical professionals with a way to see what is happening inside of your body. There are several different types of imaging tests available, and each produces a different type of image.
    • X-rays reveal dense materials within the body. They are usually used to view bone, but are able to detect tumors.
    • CT scans reveal the body’s internal structures in slices through the use of electromagnets.
    • MRIs use radio waves and magnets to show internal structures as a direct image.
    • PET scans reveal areas of high metabolic activity, indicating rapid division of cells.
  • Biopsies – Biopsies are the most invasive. tests are done for mesothelioma. They are also the most conclusive. To perform a biopsy, your physician will remove a sample of tissue or fluid from the body and analyze it under a microscope.

Once Your Mesothelioma Has Been Diagnosed

If your physician diagnoses mesothelioma, your next step is the creation of a therapeutic plan. It is always a good idea to seek a second opinion about your treatment options, but it is important that you move quickly. Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer, and every day that passes without treatment is a day lost.

st like with other illnesses or serious, terminal diseases, conducting medical tests and confirming the existing condition, progression and prognosis is the start of the very important process of identifying, addressing and effectively treating Mesothelioma.

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