Test to find mesothelioma

If symptoms and/or the results of the physical exam suggest a mesothelioma might be present, more involved tests will likely be done. These might include imaging tests, blood tests, and other procedures.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests use x-rays, radioactive particles, or magnetic fields to create pictures of the inside of your body. Imaging tests may be done for a number of reasons, including to help find a suspicious area that might be cancerous, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine if treatment has been effective.

Chest x-ray
This is often the first test done if someone has symptoms such as a constant cough or shortness of breath. It may show an abnormal thickening of the pleura, calcium deposits on the pleura, fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall, or changes in the lungs themselves as a result of asbestos exposure. These findings may also suggest a mesothelioma.

Computed tomography (CT) scan
The CT scan is an x-ray procedure that produces detailed cross-sectional images of your body. Instead of taking one picture, like a regular x-ray, a CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates around you while you are lying on a narrow platform. A computer then combines these into images of slices of the part of your body that is being studied. CT scans are often used to help assess the likelihood that mesothelioma is present and to help determine the exact location of the cancer. They can also help stage the cancer (determine the extent of its spread). For example, they can show whether the cancer has
spread to the liver or other organs. This can help to determine if surgery might be a treatment option. Finally, CT scans can be used to learn whether treatment such as chemotherapy has been helpful in shrinking or slowing the growth of the cancer. Before any pictures are taken, you may be asked to drink 1 to 2 pints of a liquid called oral contrast. This helps outline the intestine so that certain areas are not mistaken for tumors. You may also receive an IV (intravenous) line through which a different kind of contrast dye (IV contrast) is injected. This helps better outline structures in your body. The injection can cause some flushing (redness and warm feeling). Some people are
allergic and get hives or, rarely, more serious reactions like trouble breathing and low blood pressure. Be sure to tell the doctor if you have ever had a reaction to any contrast material used for x-rays.

You need to lie still on a table while the scan is being done. During the test, the table moves in and out of the scanner, a ring-shaped machine that completely surrounds the table. You might feel a bit confined by the ring you have to lie in while the pictures are being taken.

For more information cancer.org

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