Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma can develop. After being exposed to asbestos, symptoms such as persistent coughing, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing can signal mesothelioma. If you have experienced these symptoms and suspect you have been around asbestos, a few steps are essential when diagnosing mesothelioma.

A doctor will often want your medical history to determine risk factors as well as possible asbestos exposure. This often includes providing your doctor with a complete work history. A physical exam is also often performed to test for fluid buildup in the chest, abdomen, heart, or other areas commonly caused by mesothelioma.

If after these procedures mesothelioma is detected, imaging tests will often be performed. These imaging tests can be used to determine if there are cancerous cells present and areas of the body being affected by cancer. Chest x-rays will be taken if a patient is experiencing symptoms such as coughing and chest pain. The chest x-ray can show fluid build up or abnormal thickening of the pleura, which are both caused by mesothelioma. CT scans can also be used to determine this but go further in detecting all areas of the body for cancerous cells. This can also help determine the stage at which the cancer has progressed. If a doctor suspects you have fluid around your heart caused by mesothelioma, an echocardiogram can be performed to look at the heart. PET and MRI scans can also be used at a precise way to determine the location of cancerous cells. If anything suspicious is seen during these imaging tests, patients are often referred to a doctor specializing in the treatment of cancer who can test blood and fluid to see if it mesothelioma. Due to the symptoms being associated with other diseases, mesothelioma can often be misdiagnosed as a less serious disease or another form of cancer. This is why it is important to take all necessary steps recommended by your doctor if he suspects you may have gotten mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Click here to learn more about asbestos exposure and options if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.