Several tests show mesothelioma, including computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, ultrasound, and X-rays. The American Cancer Society also explains how blood tests can detect biomarkers that indicate you might have mesothelioma, and that a biopsy confirms the diagnosis. Your doctor will decide what diagnostic tests to run to determine if you have mesothelioma based on your history of asbestos exposure and your current symptoms.
Tests Showing Mesothelioma
If a person has had past exposure to asbestos, they might develop symptoms that would lead a doctor or surgeon to suspect mesothelioma. The doctor has several tests available to help make an accurate diagnosis for a patient.
Ultrasound diagnostic scans are often a starting point for doctors that suspect pericardial (heart), peritoneal (abdomen), or testicular mesothelioma in a patient. This safe, non-invasive test uses ultrasound waves to detect the possible presence of any abnormalities or tumors on organs or tissue throughout a person’s body.
X-rays and CT Scans
In many cases when a patient complains of symptoms related to pleural (lungs) mesothelioma, a doctor will first order an X-ray of the chest to see if there are any masses that could potentially be cancerous. However, X-rays miss more than 20% of all lung cancers, according to Verywell Health, and are not powerful enough to determine whether any masses that appear are malignant or benign (or just simple infections.)
Therefore, many doctors instead order a CT scan as a diagnostic tool to determine with better accuracy:
- Whether any masses exist in the chest or abdomen of a patient.
- Whether mesothelioma developed in these areas.
- Whether the cancer has spread to other organs.
CT scans are performed either with or without a contrast dye, depending on the exact information a doctor seeks regarding a patient.
MRI scans operate differently than CT scans, as they use powerful magnets and radio waves to produce images of organs and tissue in greater detail. As detailed in the Lung Cancer Journal, physicians often use MRIs to help determine the diagnosis of mesothelioma and the severity and spread of this cancer throughout a patient’s body. For instance, with pleural mesothelioma, an MRI can help doctors determine if the cancer has spread to the diaphragm.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scans examine the rate that cancer cells absorb a radioactive sugar injected into the blood. A special camera creates a picture that details the areas of the body where cancer cells are growing, helping doctors determine whether a mass seen on an X-ray is cancer or scar tissue.
Blood tests are often used by doctors to gauge levels of certain proteins that may indicate cancer in the body. Some blood tests include determining the levels of CA125, CEA, HE4, and CA19-9, while others test for increased levels of fibulin-3 or soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs).
It is important to note that these blood markers can have high levels for other reasons completely unrelated to cancer. For this reason, doctors do not typically rely solely on blood test results but use them as a piece of a whole picture to help them make a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Once a doctor suspects mesothelioma based on test results, they perform a biopsy to remove cells from the suspect area for analysis under a microscope. Endoscopic biopsy is the most common type used to determine mesothelioma, and they include the following procedures:
- Thoracoscopy: Used to look inside the chest and pleura.
- Laparoscopy: Used to look inside the peritoneum (abdomen).
- Mediastinoscopy: Used to examine the lymph nodes between the lungs.
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Treatments Following Tests Showing Mesothelioma
According to the National Cancer Institute, the four types of treatments available for most cases of mesothelioma are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Depending on the type of mesothelioma a patient has, different treatments will occur, often in combination with each other.
However, there are other types of treatments available that are more experimental or holistic in nature. For example, changing to a healthier eating plan, participating in an immunotherapy trial, or even visiting alternative treatment centers can in some cases help patients. Not every treatment will work for every patient with mesothelioma, and since this is an aggressive type of cancer, patients will want to listen to their doctor’s advice regarding any type of treatment or surgery recommended.
Consider How a Mesothelioma Attorney Can Help
If you believe your possible mesothelioma symptoms relate directly to your exposure to asbestos, you should visit with your doctor as soon as possible to conduct diagnostic tests that would show mesothelioma.
Additionally, if you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering. You may want to visit with the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more about your legal rights and how a mesothelioma attorney can help you pursue the compensation you may be eligible to receive. Call our team today at (800) 794-0444 for a free consultation.