Being exposed to asbestos can affect the risk of malignant mesothelioma.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk.
Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked or lived in places where they inhaled
or swallowed asbestos. After being exposed to asbestos, it usually takes a long time for malignant mesothelioma to form. Living with a person who works near asbestos is also a risk factor for malignant mesothelioma.
Signs and symptoms of malignant mesothelioma include shortness of breath and pain under the rib cage.
Sometimes the cancer causes fluid
to collect in the chest or in the abdomen. Signs
may be caused by the fluid, malignant mesothelioma, or other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
Problems with blood clots
(clots form when they shouldn’t).
Weight loss for no known reason.
Feeling very tired.
Tests that examine the inside of the chest and abdomen are used to detect (find) and diagnose malignant mesothelioma.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between malignant mesothelioma in the chest and lung cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used to diagnose
malignant mesothelioma in the chest or peritoneum:
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, and 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.
(CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of the chest and abdomen, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye
may be injected
into a vein
or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
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:
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.
Thoracotomy: An incision (cut) is made between two ribs to check inside the chest for signs of disease.
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.
Open biopsy: A procedure in which an incision (cut) is made through the skin to expose and remove tissues to check for signs of disease.
The following tests may be done on the cells and tissue samples that are taken:
exam: An exam of cells under a microscope to check for anything abnormal. For mesothelioma, fluid is taken from the chest or from the abdomen. A pathologist checks the fluid for signs of cancer.
Immunohistochemistry: A test that uses antibodies
to check for certain antigens
in a sample of tissue. The antibody is usually linked to a radioactive
substance or a dye that causes the tissue to light up under a microscope. This type of test may be used to tell the difference between different types of cancer.
Electron microscopy: A laboratory test
in which cells in a sample of tissue are viewed under a high-powered microscope to look for certain changes in the cells. An electron microscope shows tiny details better than other types of microscopes.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.