Diagnosis of mesothelioma requires that different tests are performed including blood tests, imaging scans, biopsies, and biomarkers. If a patient receives early diagnosis, it helps improve their chances of survival because treatment is offered in time before the cancer progresses. But diagnosing mesothelioma early isn’t something easy because many patients don’t show symptoms, and they come to be diagnosed when they are undergoing routine checkups or when they show symptoms that resemble those of mesothelioma.
Before a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it may take many months during which the patient endures a period of suffering from pain as well as shortness of breath. Sometimes, a patient may not be diagnosed until they show life-threatening complications, something that leaves them with few treatment options according to Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases1.
During diagnosis, patients may be misdiagnosed of other diseases for example pneumonia or flu and other respiratory illnesses. Patients who show symptoms of mesothelioma or even those not showing symptoms, but have had exposure to asbestos need to discuss it with their doctor.
Unless a doctor has been told that a patient has had exposure to asbestos it is unlikely that he or she will consider mesothelioma as the cause of the symptoms. The most likely reason why the cancer proves difficult to treat is because it is usually diagnosed in later stages when it has progressed to a serious condition. Having early mesothelioma detection allows physicians to consider a wider array of treatment approaches some of which include surgery. Remember that surgery is not always an option if the cancer has spread or metastasized.2
How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Cancer specialists take different approaches when diagnosing a patient. First, the doctor will order for tests to find out if another disease may be the cause of the symptoms. During the examination, the doctor asks questions to get full medical history of the patients including any possible exposure to asbestos. After that, the doctor performs various tests including blood tests and imaging scans. In case the initial tests signify that there may be development of mesothelioma, the doctor will conduct a biopsy, which is the only test able to confirm the diagnosis.
Generally speaking, mesothelioma diagnosis is conducted through three main ways and they include blood tests, imaging scans, and biopsies. Other kinds of tests may also be ordered. During the process, doctors try to conduct the least invasive procedures first before going for the more detailed and involved tests.