Mesothelioma How to Diagnose: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to our guide on mesothelioma how to diagnose. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that covers most of your internal organs. The majority of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral commonly found in building materials. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the diagnosis of mesothelioma, exploring symptoms, tests, and what to expect from the diagnostic process. It is our hope that this guide will provide you with valuable information and resources as you navigate through the challenging journey of mesothelioma diagnosis.

What is Mesothelioma?

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma can take years or even decades to appear after exposure to asbestos. In many cases, mesothelioma is not diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages. Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have a history of asbestos exposure, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Early detection of mesothelioma can greatly improve treatment options and outcomes.

Diagnostic Tests for Mesothelioma

Diagnosing mesothelioma can be challenging because the symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses. A proper diagnosis usually involves a combination of imaging tests, biopsies and blood tests. Here are some of the most common diagnostic tests used for mesothelioma:

Diagnostic Test Explanation
X-ray Can detect fluid buildup in the chest
CT scan Provides detailed images of internal structures
MRI Uses high-powered magnets and radio waves to create detailed images
PET scan Uses a radioactive tracer to detect cancer cells
Blood Tests May detect mesothelioma specific biomarkers
Biopsy Removal of a small tissue sample for examination under a microscope

Types of Mesothelioma and their Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is classified into three main types: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma. The diagnostic process for each type of mesothelioma may vary slightly. Here are some of the most important points to know about each:

Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this cancer. It develops in the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Diagnosis typically involves imaging tests, like x-rays or CT scans, as well as a biopsy.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen. Diagnosis of this form of mesothelioma usually involves imaging tests, like CT scans and ultrasounds, as well as a biopsy.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare form of mesothelioma. It develops in the lining of the heart. Diagnosis of this form of mesothelioma usually involves imaging tests, like echocardiograms or CT scans, as well as a biopsy.

FAQs about Mesothelioma How to Diagnose

Q: How long does it take to diagnose mesothelioma?

A: The diagnostic process can take several weeks or even months. It depends on the specific diagnostic tests needed and how quickly the results are available.

Q: What is a pleural effusion?

A: A pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid in the space between the lungs and chest wall. This is a common symptom of pleural mesothelioma.

Q: Can mesothelioma be diagnosed without a biopsy?

A: While a biopsy is typically needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, other imaging and blood tests may provide valuable information to aid in the diagnosis.

Q: What is a mesothelioma biomarker?

A: A mesothelioma biomarker is a substance in the body that indicates the presence of mesothelioma. Examples of mesothelioma biomarkers include soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRP) and osteopontin.

Q: Do all asbestos exposure cases lead to mesothelioma?

A: No. While asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma, not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop this cancer.

Q: Can mesothelioma be cured?

A: There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma. However, treatment options are available to help manage symptoms and prolong survival.

Q: What is a second opinion, and why is it important?

A: A second opinion is when a patient seeks the advice of another doctor or specialist to confirm or provide additional insight into a diagnosis or treatment plan. It is important to have a second opinion to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate and that all available treatment options are being considered.

Q: Is mesothelioma hereditary?

A: No. Mesothelioma is not considered to be an inherited condition. However, some studies suggest that genetic factors may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos.

Q: Can mesothelioma be prevented?

A: The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. This can be accomplished by wearing protective clothing and equipment, and by following proper safety procedures when working with asbestos-containing materials.

Q: What are the treatment options for mesothelioma?

A: Treatment options for mesothelioma may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. The specific treatment plan will depend on the type and stage of mesothelioma, as well as the patient’s overall health.

Q: What is the prognosis for mesothelioma?

A: The prognosis for mesothelioma varies depending on the stage of the cancer and other factors. While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, treatment options are available to help manage symptoms and prolong survival.

Q: Can mesothelioma recur after treatment?

A: Yes. Mesothelioma can recur after treatment, even after a period of remission. Regular follow-up appointments and imaging tests are important to monitor for any signs of recurrence.

Q: How can I find a mesothelioma specialist?

A: The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation offers a doctor match program that connects patients with mesothelioma specialists in their area. You can also ask your primary care physician or oncologist for a referral to a specialist.

Q: What resources are available to help me cope with mesothelioma?

A: There are many resources available to support patients and their families throughout the mesothelioma journey. Some examples include support groups, counseling services, and financial assistance programs. Your doctor or cancer center can provide you with information on these resources.


Mesothelioma how to diagnose can be a complex and challenging process, but with the right knowledge and resources, patients and their families can navigate it with confidence. Early detection is key to successful treatment outcomes, so it is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms of mesothelioma. We hope that this guide has provided you with valuable information and resources to help you on your mesothelioma journey.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to take action and explore all available treatment options. Contact a mesothelioma specialist or treatment center to discuss your options and create a customized treatment plan. Remember, there is always hope in the fight against mesothelioma.


The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health or medical treatment.