Choosing the Right Doctor for Mesothelioma  Treatment

Your doctor will be able to determine the following if  you have Mesothelioma:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and  treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  • The stage of the cancer.
  • The size of the tumor.
  • Whether the tumor can be removed completely by surgery.
  • The amount of fluid in the chest or abdomen.
  • The patient’s age and general health, including lung and  heart health.
  • The type of mesothelioma cancer cells and how they look  under a microscope.
  • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred  (come back).

Tests that examine the inside of the chest and abdomen are  used to detect and diagnose malignant mesothelioma.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between malignant  mesothelioma and lung cancer. The following tests and procedures may be used:

Physical exam and history:  An exam of the body to check general  signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits, exposure to asbestos, past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Chest x-ray:  An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the  chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through  the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the  body.

X-ray of the chest. X-rays are used to take pictures of organs  and bones of the chest. X-rays pass through the patient onto film.

Complete blood count (CBC): A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:

  • The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
  • The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.

Sedimentation rate: A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for  the rate at which the red blood cells settle to the bottom of the test tube.

Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues from the pleura  or peritoneum so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. Procedures used to collect the cells or tissues include the following:

Fine-needle (FNA) aspiration biopsy of the lung: The removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle. An imaging procedure  is used to locate the abnormal tissue or fluid in the lung. A small incision may be made in the skin where the biopsy needle is inserted into the abnormal tissue or fluid, and  a sample is removed.

Lung biopsy. The patient lies on a table that slides through  the computed tomography (CT) machine which takes x-ray pictures of the inside of the body. The x-ray pictures help the doctor  see where the abnormal tissue is in the lung. A biopsy needle is inserted through the chest wall and into the area of abnormal lung tissue. A small piece of tissue is removed through the needle and checked under the microscope for signs of cancer.

Thoracoscopy: An incision (cut) is made between two ribs and a thoracoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing) is inserted into the chest.

Peritoneoscopy: An incision (cut) is made in the abdominal wall and a peritoneoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with  a light and a lens for viewing) is inserted into the abdomen.

Laparotomy: An incision (cut) is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of disease.

Thoracotomy: An incision (cut) is made between two ribs to check inside the chest for signs of disease.

Bronchoscopy: A procedure to look inside the trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea and lungs. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with  a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.

Bronchoscopy. A bronchoscope is inserted through the mouth, trachea, and major ronchi into the lung, to look for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a cutting tool. Tissue samples may be taken to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

Cytologic exam: An exam of cells under a microscope (by a pathologist) to check for anything abnormal. For mesothelioma, fluid is taken from around the lungs or from the abdomen. A pathologist checks the cells in the fluid.

Below are links to contacting the National Center Institute for information about finding a qualified doctor to handle for illness.

Cancer Information Service
Toll-free: 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237)
TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 1–800–332–8615
National Center Institute Online – Internet
Use to reach NCI’s Web site.
Cancer Information Specialists offer online assistancethrough the LiveHelp link on the NCI’s Web site.

Reprinted with Permission of The National Cancer Institute©.