A physician diagnosing mesothelioma will employ several techniques in order to correctly diagnose the type of mesothelioma and what to what stage it has progressed. After obtaining the patient’s medical history and any other pertinent information, the doctor will order one of several tests—x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or PETs. X-rays are only helpful if tumors have formed in the mesothelial lining of the lungs since evidence of asbestos fibers cannot be detected by x-ray. In addition, a physician may examine the chest cavity by using a thoracoscope which involves minor surgery to the chest wall in the form of a very small cut. Once this is done, the thoracoscope is inserted between two ribs and the interior of the chest is investigated. Individuals undergoing thoracoscopies are given local anesthetics and remain conscious during the procedure.
Tissue that appears abnormal will be tested by the doctor cutting a small piece and sending it to a laboratory where a biopsy will be performed. Because the diagnosis of mesothelioma is sometimes difficult and patients are often the victim of misdiagnosis, anyone suspected of having asbestos-related lung cancer needs to tell the doctor of places they have worked in the past, especially if they worked for construction companies, the military or shipyards. Unless a doctor is aware of someone possibly being exposed to mesothelioma, he may not suspect a case of this type of lung cancer because it is somewhat rare.
Imaging techniques to correctly diagnose mesothelioma are helpful because they provide detailed and accurate pictures of what is happening inside the lungs. Magnetic resonance imaging scans, or MRIs, are frequently utilized to determine how far along tumors have progressed before applying an aggressive treatment plan. MRIs are better equipped to differentiate between abnormal and normal growths as well. Positron emission tomography is probably the best kind of imaging scan to use when diagnosing mesothelioma but because of they are expensive and are not covered by many insurance companies, PET scans cannot be used all the time in Diagnosing Mesothelioma.