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How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops when the cells in the mesothelium, a layer of tissue that lines the chest and abdomen, become cancer cells. The cancer usually starts in the lung lining and can later spread to other areas of the body, including bones and the brain.

Mesothelioma Screening

There is no general screening for mesothelioma. Screening is testing for cancer in people without symptoms. However, for people exposed to asbestos in the past, doctors may recommend regular imaging tests to look for any anomalies. 

Most of the time, mesothelioma is found when people go to the doctor for symptoms such as shortness of breath or unexplained weight loss. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past, it is vital to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma so you can catch it early.

Symptoms may include:

  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • decreased appetite
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fatigue
  • fluid buildup (effusion) in the lung, abdomen, or around the heart
  • hoarseness
  • lumps under the skin on the chest
  • pain in the side of the chest or lower back
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the face and arms
  • weight loss without trying

If you have been around asbestos and you develop any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to speak to your doctor and advise them of the exposure so they can conduct appropriate tests.

Diagnostic Testing

Mesothelioma testing typically involves a chest X-ray, CT, or MRI scan. These tests are used to identify any abnormal areas on the lungs or other organs that may be indicative of mesothelioma. Suppose there are no abnormalities found in these tests. In that case, a surgeon may perform a biopsy or needle aspiration procedure where cells from the tumor are removed for further examination and analysis.


X-rays for mesothelioma can help with the early detection of the disease and provide relief from symptoms. They are also used to monitor changes in lung function, breathing capacity, and general health.

CT scan (CAT scan)

A CT scan is a diagnostic imaging test that provides information about the extent and spread of the disease. It can be used to help diagnose lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and other cancers of the respiratory tract and chest wall, such as mesothelioma.

PET scan (positron emission tomography scan)

A positron emission tomography scan (PET scan) is a medical imaging technique that uses a radioactive tracer to produce three-dimensional images of organs and structures inside the body.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the body. Doctors can use it to diagnose many medical conditions, including mesothelioma.

Magnetic resonance imaging scans help detect the presence of cancerous cells in the body. They are also beneficial in determining the location and size of tumors and other organs.


A biopsy is typically performed under general anesthesia and involves the removal of one or more tissue samples from the chest, abdomen, or pelvis.

The biopsy may be done through open surgery or through minimally invasive surgery using keyhole incisions. In both cases, the surgeon removes a thin layer of tissue from the patient’s body to examine for signs of tumor cells and other abnormalities.

Removal of fluids

If there is excess fluid in the body, it may be removed and examined for cancer cells. The procedure has different names depending on where the fluid is located.

  • Thoracentesis removes fluid from the chest.
  • Paracentesis removes fluid from the abdomen.
  • Pericardiocentesis removes fluid from the sac around the heart.

What to Do After A Mesothelioma Diagnosis

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to act quickly to improve your chances of survival. You may feel overwhelmed with your diagnosis, but it is important to evaluate your options.

There are several things you can do after your diagnosis, including:

  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options
  • Get a second opinion to determine if the diagnosis is correct
  • Start treatment as soon as possible
  • Join a support group where you can speak with others in your position

You may also want to talk with a lawyer regarding any compensation options available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to find answers to some commonly asked questions regarding the mesothelioma diagnosis.

How does mesothelioma staging affect treatment?

Mesothelioma staging is a process that determines how much of a tumor there is, where it has spread to, and how far it has spread. It helps doctors decide on what treatment plan to use for each patient.

Can you sue for mesothelioma?

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause serious health problems, but many companies still put it in their products. It is possible to file a lawsuit against these companies and get the compensation that you deserve.

How quickly does mesothelioma progress?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. It can take years for it to develop and for symptoms to become noticeable. However, if not treated, mesothelioma can progress quickly and cause death within weeks or months.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed early?

Mesothelioma is diagnosed early when it’s found in its earliest stages. Mesothelioma may be found during a CT scan or chest X-ray, but if it’s not caught in time, mesothelioma can quickly spread and become more challenging to treat.

Early diagnosis of mesothelioma is essential because it allows doctors to start treatment as soon as possible before the cancer spreads beyond the lungs or other organs.

How to Get a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

The first step to getting a mesothelioma diagnosis is to see a doctor. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and evaluate your medical history, including asking about asbestos exposure. They will also perform a physical exam. If the doctor suspects you have mesothelioma, they might order tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Getting diagnosed as early as possible gives you enough time to file a compensation claim. Catching it early also improves your prognosis and allows you more time.