Mesothelioma Diagnosis

For patients with mesothelioma, diagnosis is usually confirmed within three to six months after their visit to the doctor with certain complaints. These complaints include chest pain, abdominal pain and breathing problems. The first thing that is needed for the doctor before he suggests any tests is a complete and accurate medical history. This history should include past and current health problems, as well as the symptoms currently being experienced.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

If you have had any exposure to asbestos, you should inform the doctor. If he isn't aware, he may not consider any diseases that relate to asbestos during his examination. He will still perform the exam and consider all causes that may be contributing to the symptoms. To be sure of a proper diagnosis, he will recommend some necessary testing.

Diagnostic Testing

If the doctor does suspect mesothelioma, or any other asbestos-related disease, he will include testing to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis, determine the type and size of the cancer, as well as the location, and whether the cancer has spread to any other parts in the body. These tests include:

  • Chest X-ray – This common imaging test also helps diagnose mesothelioma.
  • CT Scan – This X-ray procedure takes several X-ray pictures. They are combined with a computer to show more details of the body tissues. An intravenous dye injection helps show the more detailed images.
  • PET Scan – The intravenous injection used in this scan is a glucose solution. Then a scanner is used to see any deposits of cancer cells. The sugars are used and devoured more quickly by malignant cells than by normal cells, so this scan will be able to show the difference.
  • MRI Scan – Radio waves and a strong magnetic field combine to create detailed three-dimensional images that a radiologist can examine carefully.

Fluid and Tissue Tests

These tests are also considered biopsy examinations. The physician collects small samples of tissue or fluid and checks them for any cancer cells. These tests include:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration – Mesothelioma causes a build-up of fluid in any affected locations, such as the pleural membrane. Using a long, thin and hollow needle, the doctor will remove a fluid sample.
  • Thoracoscopy – This test is only used where pericardial or pleural mesothelioma is suspected. This procedure involves removing a sample of tissue from a very small incision in the chest wall.
  • Bronchoscopy and Laparoscopy – Similar to a thoracoscopy, but these tests are done on other parts of the body. The broncoscopy views the trachea and airway, and the laparoscopy removes peritoneal tissue samples.
  • Mediastinoscopy – This test is used to see lymph nodes in the neck and chest to conclude that the cancer has spread from its' original point.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Code

There are different codes used for the different forms of mesothelioma. The ICD-9 code 163 refers to pleural mesothelioma that is the malignant neoplasm of the pleura. The ICD-9 code 158 refers to peritoneal mesothelioma, and ICD-9 code 164 refers to pericardial mesothelioma. The codes are not frequently used, but patients should know about them if their doctor chooses to use them or if they read about the codes during their own research.

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