Mesothelioma is one of the rarer forms of cancer with approximately 2000 cases reported in the UK each year. There are two types of mesothelioma; pleural mesothelioma (which causes the lining of the lungs to become thicker) and peritoneal mesothelioma (which causes the lining of the abdomen to become thicker). Both of these forms of cancer are almost always caused by asbestos exposure hence the nickname asbestos cancer. Despite it being one of the less common types of cancer there are still a number of tests out there which I will be outlining in this article.
1) X-RAY:- One of the first tests your doctor is likely to recommend is an x-ray of the chest, the abdomen or both. This will allow them to see a number of things. First, it may reveal the presence of asbestos in or around the lungs or the stomach. Secondly, it will reveal any build up of fluid either around the lungs (which could turn out to be pleural effusion) or around the abdomen (which could turn out to be ascites). Finally, it will allow your doctor to see any thickening, swelling, lumps or tumours around the lungs and abdomen which could turn out to be mesothelioma. If the x-ray does reveal any of the above abnormalities your doctor is likely to recommend further testing.
2) FINE NEEDLE ASPIRATION CYTOLOGY (FNAC):- If the x-ray reveals a build up of fluid in the lining of the lungs or the abdomen your doctor is likely to suggest FNAC. This test involves using a fine needle to take a sample of fluid from either the pleura (the lining of the lungs) or the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen). The fluid can then be tested in a lab for the presence of cancerous mesothelioma cells. If the FNAC reveals that the fluid contains mesothelioma cells your doctor will be able to discuss treatment options with you.
3) BIOPSY:- If the x-ray reveals any abnormalities in the shape of the pleura or the peritoneum your doctor is likely to recommend a biopsy. This normally involves using a special type of needle to take a sample of cells from the affected areas. These cells can then be analysed in a lab for the presence of cancerous mesothelioma cells. If cancerous cells are discovered your doctor will then be able to talk you through the treatment options available.
Although mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of cancer that does not mean you should neglect the available tests. If you have previously been exposed to asbestos or have any reason to believe you may have contracted this type of cancer go speak with your doctor immediately. Mesothelioma is much more treatable when it is identified early and that can only be achieved through proper testing.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Mesothelioma is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.