Though most of the doctors are well aware of the causes of mesothelioma, it is a challenging task to diagnose mesothelioma clinically. One of the most difficult task while diagnosing mesothelioma is that the symptoms look similar to other conditions with which one may not definitely conclude the presence of cancer.
Another difficulty that attributes towards the diagnosis of mesothelioma is the exposure to asbestos does not reveal its adverse effects for many years, sometimes up to 30 years or more.
How to Diagnose Mesothelioma?
Types of Mesothelioma to be diagnosed
- Pleural Mesothelioma
- Pertineal Mesothelioma
- Pericardial Mesothelioma
The common symptoms of mesothelioma of all the three types:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Having continuous chest pain
- Persistent lower back pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Mild to moderate chest pain
- Noticeable heart problems
- Problems with breathing
Techniques to diagnose Mesothelioma
The techniques used to diagnose both mesothelioma asbestos and mesothelioma cancer are the same. The diagnosis are carried out using three major techniques that has got other additional methods in it-
1. Non-Invasive diagnostic technique such as PET, CT Scan, MRI Scan
2. Invasive diagnostic technique such as thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy
3. Staging diagnostic technique
1. Technique of Non-invasive diagnosis
The preliminary diagnosis can be done only by interacting with the patient by knowing the history of their exposure to asbestos as the asbestos exposure is the main cause for mesothelioma (asbestos). The presence of mesothelioma can be diagnosed by using any one of the following three methods or the combination of all the three:
- Positron Emission Tomography
- Computed Tomography Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Under this method of diagnosis, to find out the mesothelioma cancer, both tracers and cameras are used to track the dangerous growth of tumor cells and to spot out the biological changes in the cells. PET is considered to be the superior methods of all non-invasive diagnostic techniques.
Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
In computed tomography scan x-ray machine is used to take images of the affected area of the lung. Here, a continuous imaging is made on the movement so as to identify the exact location of the tumor and its size for a better diagnosis that can be viewed through computer.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanning is a radiology process where magnetism, radioactive rays and the computer is used for diagnosis purpose. MRI scanner is a tube like structure surrounded by giant magnetic field. The patient is placed on a moveable bed that is inserted into the magnet.The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the suspected area of possible mesothelioma cancer.
2. Technique of Invasive diagnosis
Thoracoscopy, Peritoneoscopy, and mediastinopathy are the three basic methods used under invasive diagnostic methods. Though the presence of mesothelioma can be detected through non-invasive diagnostic methods, it is invasive technique that accurately confirms the presence of mesothelioma cancer.
An incision is made on the chest wall to insert a thin, small and a lighted tube in between any two rib bones through which the lung can be viewed by the doctor clearly to confirm the presence of any abnormality.
A small cut is made in the abdominal area through which a peritoneoscope is sent in with an intention to collect tissue from the area that reveals upon testing the presence of tumor.
This is an excellent technique to collect tissue samples from the mediastinal lymphnodes. A small incision is made comfortable to insert a lighted mediastinoscope through the chest wall.
If the tissue collected from the above methods does not match the proven results of mesothelioma cancer in a person then a detailed diagnostic surgery has to be done for a confirmation.
3. Technique of Staging diagnosis
Doctors uses this technique to find out the spreading of mesothelioma cancer from original membrane to other visceral organs that includes lymphnodes, chest wall, liver, kidney etc.
Through all the above diagnostic methods the presence of mesothelioma cancer will be found out for further steps of treating it or for other medical advises through which the pain and development of further symptoms can be controlled. It is better to learn about what is mesothelioma before even knowing how to diagnose mesothelioma cancer, as the symptoms of this risky cancer will not reveal its presence in you for decades and even longer.