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Frequently Asked Questions: Information for Families

Mesothelioma is sometimes confused with other respiratory illnesses. How do doctors make a diagnosis of mesothelioma?

mesothelioma symptomsDespite the fact that this type of cancer typically develops due to exposure to asbestos, as well as the use of the material being highly regulated today, the diagnosis of mesothelioma is rare and there are only about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases that are documented annually. Additionally, the disease’s latency (incubation) period can take up to 50 years before the symptoms become evident. As a result, medical professionals today feel that these diagnoses will dramatically increase over the next decade.

When mesothelioma is diagnosed, the doctor has most likely performed one of a few specific procedures. An x-ray of the chest cavity and the lungs is usually the first procedure that is performed. Also, performing scans such as CT or PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans enable doctors to see any existing problems in this area of the body. Finally, if a cancerous tissue has been detected, it may be further studied by performing a biopsy and examining this tissue further to confirm the diagnosis.

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