If your healthcare provider believes you may have mesothelioma, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure. You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.
He or she will also give you a physical exam, including an exam of your lung, chest, abdomen or other affected body part. You may have one or more of the following tests.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan — A CT scanner takes multiple side-by-side images of your organs and the surrounding structures. If mesothelioma is present, a CT scan can detect it and help providers figure out the extent of the cancer as they begin developing a treatment plan.
- Echocardiogram — This test uses ultrasound technology to help visualize the heart if mesothelioma is suspected around the heart.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — Using magnets and radio waves, and MRI can help diagnose the size and location of mesothelioma. A special contrast agent may be used to improve visibility.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) — A PET scan may be prescribed following a CT scan. Often, PET scans are combined with a special radioactive sugar that attaches to cancerous cells. This helps determine if mesothelioma is present and has possibly spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes.
- X-ray — An X-ray uses electromagnetic waves to create images of the inside of the body. An X-ray of the chest is often the first step to figure out if something suspicious is going on with the lungs.
A biopsy removes tissue or cells from the lung, chest or other body part to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if cells are cancer.
A mesothelioma biopsy is done with either general anesthesia or a local anesthesia that uses medicine to numb the area of the lung, chest, abdomen or other body part where a needle will be inserted.
A biopsy may be performed with imaging guidance. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.
Patients will be contacted after a biopsy by a Markey team member to review results. Further management will be recommended at that time.
When you are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, it is common to feel a sense of urgency around starting treatment. However, in most cases, there is time to do the needed research to ensure that your diagnosis is correct. That may include getting a second opinion.
Our team of experts works together to diagnose, treat and prevent mesothelioma, with a focus on individualized patient care.
Markey is among the best cancer centers in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, when it comes to advanced treatment options, survival rates and experienced providers. As the one and only NCI-designated cancer program in Kentucky, Markey can serve many patients each year with rare and common cancers, including mesothelioma.
Our specialized team is happy to work with your doctors and communicate to ensure confidence in your diagnosis.
Should I get a second opinion?
A second opinion can help to ensure that you will be getting the latest and most effective therapy for treating mesothelioma. The following are common reasons for seeking a second opinion after your initial diagnosis:
- You are having difficulty understanding your diagnosis.
- A dedicated team specialized in your cancer type may not be available in your area.
- There may be uncertainty around the stage of malignant mesothelioma.
- You may want to learn more about different treatment options, including clinical trials and advanced technologies only available at an advanced center like Markey.
- Your health insurance requires a second opinion before continuing toward treatment.
Questions to ask when getting a second opinion
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may have a lot on your mind. Here a few questions for your doctor when seeking a second opinion:
- Are there additional tests I should take before moving forward with treatment?
- Do you recommend any treatments at this time?
- How long are treatment recovery periods?
- Is there a chance that my medical problem could have a different diagnosis?
- What do you expect to happen if I wait or don't have the treatment?
- What are the side effects of treatment?