How is a Diagnosis of Mesothelioma Done?
Tests of Fluid and Tissue Samples
A sample of pleural effusion is extracted by inserting a needle into the chest cavity. A similar technique can be used to obtain abdominal fluid and pericardial fluid. The fluid sample is then tested to show its chemical make-up and analyzed under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer cells.
A tissue sample of a pleural or pericardial tumor can be obtained using a relatively new technique called thoracoscopy. A thoracoscope (telescope-like instrument connected to a video camera) is inserted through a small incision into the chest. The doctor can see the tumor through the thoracoscope and can use special forceps to take a tissue biopsy. In much the same fashion, laparoscopy can be used to see and obtain a biopsy of a peritoneal tumor. In this procedure, a flexible tube attached to a video camera is inserted into the abdominal cavity via small frontal incisions. Fluid can also be collected during thoracoscopy or laparoscopy.
A surgery, either a thoracotomy (opening of the chest cavity) or a laparotomy (opening of the abdominal cavity), can remove a sample or the whole of the tumor.
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