Because mesothelioma is rare, symptoms are often diagnosed as a symptom of another disease. If you experience symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing, fever, excessive sweating, fatigue, weight loss, swelling of the face and hands, and difficulty swallowing, the doctor will ask for a complete medical history to check the risk of possible factors, especially asbestos exposure.
Tests for detecting mesothelioma include:
Blood levels of 3 substances, fibulib-3, osteopontin, and mesothelin often surge in patients with mesothelioma. Although blood tests cannot confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma, high levels of these substances indicate the increasing possibility of mesothelioma.
If you experience a buildup of fluid in the body that may be caused by mesothelioma, the doctor will take a fluid sample by injecting in the area of the skin where the buildup of fluid occurs. The liquid can later be examined using a microscope to detect cancer cells.
If cancer cells are found, further tests will be done to determine if the cancer is mesothelioma. The test has different names, depending on where the liquid is:
- Thoracentesis: chest cavity.
- Paracentesis: abdomen.
- Pericardiocentesis: a membrane near the heart.
Although the doctor does not find mesothelioma cells in the liquid, it does not mean you do not have mesothelioma. Sometimes genuine tissue samples (biopsy) are needed to diagnose mesothelioma for sure.
Biopsy is a method of taking tissue samples for examination. Biopsies are divided into several types:
Needle biopsy: Using a long needle injected into the body to take a tumor sample. The doctor will use a tool to guide the needle into the tumor. But in some cases, the samples taken are too small and cannot be used to diagnose.
Thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and mediastinoscopy: In these procedures, the doctor will insert a thin tube-shaped instrument through a small incision in the skin. This is useful for seeing the part of the body where mesothelioma develops. This tool is also used to take samples.
Surgical biopsy: In some cases, an invasive procedure is needed to take a larger sample, so the diagnosis can be made. In this procedure, the doctor will perform an operation to take a sample.
Mesothelioma generally attacks the outside of the lungs. However, this does not include lung cancer. Although this disease is rare, you still have to be careful, especially if you have a job that requires you to be exposed to asbestos exposure.