Obtaining a mesothelioma diagnosis in its early stages can be a difficult process. The main challenge includes mesothelioma’s incredibly long latency period of 10 to 40 years between asbestos exposure and the emergence of the disease.
Another issue is that mesothelioma symptoms can be minor or mimic other conditions, including lung cancer or even pneumonia, leading to diagnosing errors. Therefore, it is important to seek annual checkups from your physician especially if you worked in industries with a high risk of asbestos exposure.
There are many methods of clinically establishing a diagnosis of mesothelioma. To do so, physicians rely on a case history that includes asbestos exposure as well as the following medical methods:
Imaging Scans and Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Imaging scans are the first diagnostic tests that most physicians rely on when trying to evaluate a combination of symptoms related to the chest and breathing abnormalities.
A chest X-ray is usually the first imaging tool. A physician will capture an image of your rib cage and lungs in order to look for abnormal dark masses. Since X-rays can often fail to capture images of soft tissue with the needed contrast, a physician will move on to more imaging tests if diagnosis proves unsatisfactory or symptoms persist.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan Multiple X-ray images combined with injections of iodine or other contrast marking materials allow for computer-generated images of soft tissue, including any abnormalities
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Strong magnets and radio waves reflect off the body and contrast materials to produce a 3D image of soft tissues and bone.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan This type of CT scan uses a harmless radioactive tracer to create a 3D image
Even if a confirmable mass is detected, imaging scans alone are not enough to diagnose mesothelioma.
Blood Tests and Biomarkers
Biomarkers are compounds found in the blood, urine or other bodily fluids that can indicate an underlying health condition.
Mesothelin is elevated in the blood of patients with mesothelioma, and commonly serves as a monitoring tool for patients with a confirmed diagnosis to indicate patient response to treatment or progression.
A SOMAmer panel of 13 biomarkers has gained use for its ability to detect mesothelioma with a high degree of accuracy. Fibulin-3 is another potential biomarker test.
As of now, the only FDA-approved biomarker for the condition is the OVA1 test. Mostly used in women who present pelvic masses, the test can also indicate mesothelioma in patients of both sexes.
Not all of these biomarker tests are in wide use except for mesothelia.
Pathology and Histopathology
For patients presenting symptoms, imaging abnormalities or a high level of relevant biomarkers, performing a pathological and histopathological examination of suspected tissues is a common next step. A biopsy is usually performed on the suspected mass or masses, and the tissues can be subjected to microscope viewing as well as lab tests to deliver a more complete picture of the possible condition.
Tissue samples are observed for continued cancerous growth over time, ruling out the possibility of similar conditions through differential diagnosis.
Note that all three types of diagnostic tools — imaging, biomarkers and pathology — can be used to develop a complete picture of a suspected mesothelioma condition while ruling out variables that lead to false diagnosis.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Call now to speak with leading asbestos exposure attorneys and receive a free, confidential case evaluation. Our legal team will pursue financial justice for your losses and work quickly to obtain compensation from asbestos trust funds and all liable parties.