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How physicians or oncologists diagnose lung cancers such as mesotheliomas?

Updated on May 4, 2010

Oncologists use various forms of patterns to diagnose cancer such as mesothelioma. As in all types of cancers, early diagnoses of mesothelioma tumor is rare because of the latency period between contraction of this deadly disease and display of symptoms. Then also, the first step to diagnose any form of cancer is checking the signs and symptoms of cancer.

Mesothelioma tumor diagnoses begin with a patient's visit to the doctor complaining of dyspnea, (shortness of breath), and chest pain.

Most of the times, mesothelioma is the starting phase that is stage I is detected as a pleural effusion which in simple terms means fluids which is build up inside the lung cavity. This diagnosis comes out after performing some diagnostic tests, physical workups and MRIs and x-rays.

Pleural effusion is also most often misdiagnosed becoz of the similarities of signs and symptoms between the "viral pneumonia" or "pleural mesothelioma". The sign or symptom for both of these diseases are mostly similar.

For better verifying that whether or not a patient who is suffering from pleural effusion has or not developed mesothelioma, a simple biopsy (a sample tissue taken for pathological examination) is to be performed for further testing by a pathologist.

Physicians access the pleural cavity usually via a cutting through the chest wall which in medical terms is known as thoracoscopy using a special instrument made for this procedure called a "thoracoscope".

If after all the above-noted investigations, the oncologist or cancer surgery specialist suspects a peritoneal cancer or sometimes mesothelioma, he/she may perform a peritoneoscopy to further obtain some biopsies or a tissue sample.

There are generally 2 types of tissue biopsies which path lab technicians use for taking off and assessing the specimen and those are:

Excisional biopsy: In this, a very small sample of body tissue is generally removed for exam.

Incisional biopsy: In this, a very large or generally entire area suspected for cancer is taken out for exam.

Then, the specimen or removed body tissue is sent to a highly acclaimed Path Lab for pathological assessment by a senior pathologist. After this, when the pathologist receives the samples and doctor's instructions, he uses a high-powered microscope for checking irregularities in the biopsy tissue. If after assessment, the biopsy returns positive for some cancer or mesothelioma, further next steps are taken to stage the cancer in order to check that whether it is stage first, second, third, or fourth stage of cancer. As you may know that in any form of cancer, first stage is the most treatable stage, whereas fourth stage is the most deadly and advanced stage.

There is a also a very common known method of staging cancers and that is:

1. First stage, second stage or localized stage: Cancer is referred to being localized if all the cancer cells are only found in the area from where they have originated. 2. Fourth stage or last stage or advanced stage: Cancer is often referred by oncologists or cancer physician's as advanced if all the cancer cells are found to have spread beyond and also far away from the location or origin to other parts of the human body.

So in this way, any form of cancer or if you want to say "mesothelioma" is diagnosed by oncologists. Some points to note for cancer treatment is:

1. Study or research of development of cancer. 2. Diagnoses of different forms of cancers. 3. Treatment of various forms of cancers. 4. Prevention of cancer.

I have also answered one more hub in which the question was asked What is Mesothelioma and why it is so costly?

Read this hub too and let me know through the comment section below what is your idea on it?


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