Mesothelioma was diagnosed using x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. Today, most surgeons prefer using the PET scan for its accuracy and ability to show the internal organs/skeletal structure in fine detail.
Complications of Diagnosing Mesothelioma
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is not easy and usually involves many complications.
A diagnosis for mesothelioma may point toward some other disease or condition because of the similarity between mesothelioma and many minor diseases/conditions such as the common cold and seasonal allergies.
In quite a few cases mesothelioma could be diagnosed as lung cancer which also involves the lungs, but is a totally different type of cancer from mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Diagnosing Techniques
A diagnosis for mesothelioma will usually begin with the physician/surgeon reviewing a complete medical history of the patient. This is followed by a thorough physical examination depending upon the mesothelioma signs and symptoms described by the patient. The signs and symptoms could include shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing caused by lung compression, mild to severe constant pain in the chest, lungs surrounded by excess fluid, fatigue caused without any apparent reason, blood traces in the sputum, sudden unexplained weight loss, constant pain (mild to excessive) in the abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, sudden noticeable change in bowel movement with constant diarrhea or constipation, and tissue lumps in the abdomen.
The physical tests will include imaging tests to search for and determine cancerous cells/formation. These imaging tests could include one or more of the following.
— CAT / CT scan
— MRI scan
— PET scan
Other tests to determine mesothelioma by means of a biopsy could include the following.
A chest or an abdomen x-ray will allow the physician/surgeon to see through layers of skin and surface tissue. The x-rays show fluid/mass build-up and help in determining any incidence of mesothelioma in the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
X-rays are one of the oldest methods of diagnosing mesothelioma and come with a few flaws. The x-rays are known to miss the tiny growths that are caused in mesothelioma, leading to further delay in correct diagnosis and possibly endangering the life of the patient.
Using CAT/CT Scan
CT/CAT (computed axial tomography) scans are basically three dimensional x-rays that are able to project extremely detailed internal pictures of the organs, bones and skeletal structures. CT scan is a method of combining images from multiple x-rays using a computer to reproduce cross sectional or three-dimensional pictures of internal organs. It is useful in determining the location and spread of mesothelioma. They are much more accurate in detail than the x-ray, helping the physician/surgeon make a more accurate diagnosis. One of the drawbacks of CT scans is that it cannot differentiate between benign or malignant mesothelioma.
Using MRI Scan
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are more sophisticated than the x-ray and CT scans. It makes use of high magnetic fields and radio waves, and with the help of a computer give physicians/surgeons a clear picture of the internal organs and skeletal structure. MRI scans are extremely clear and very useful in detecting mesothelioma related soft tissue growths and determining the severity of the tumor.
Using PET Scans
PET (positron emission tomography) imaging is the best and most widely used imaging technology for diagnosing mesothelioma. PET scans use cameras and tracers that form images to indicate biological changes which are able to detect extremely small cancerous tumors. They are much superior in their image quality and details when compared to x-rays, CAT scans, and even MRI scans. PET scans also help the physician/surgeon in determining the staging of the cancer.
Thoracoscopy is a process where the surgeon will make a small incision in the chest wall and insert an instrument known as a thoracoscope (fitted with a miniature camera and light) to examine and obtain a tissue sample for further biopsy.
Peritoneoscopy is a process where the surgeon will make a small incision in the abdomen to extract a sample tissue for further biopsy.
What After a Positive Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Once diagnosed with mesothelioma even the strongest in heart and mind can become weak. The current survival time after positive diagnosis is just 12 to 18 months (some will not even survive this long).
There is some soothing news for persons who will be positively diagnosed for mesothelioma in the future. New tests and medications which are very promising are undergoing trial and should get the survival time after diagnosis to a minimum of 5 years or more. With rapid advancements in technology, the survival time after mesothelioma diagnosis will just keep getting better and better.