NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
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Part 3: Testing for mesothelioma
Testing for mesothelioma is done when certain symptoms
that may be caused by the cancer appear. Symptoms of
mesothelioma may not show until decades after contact
with asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma overlap with
symptoms of other health conditions, so only your doctor
will be able to tell if your symptoms are due to the cancer.
Possible symptoms of mesothelioma include, but aren’t
Symptoms of mesothelioma
Amass under the skin in the chest,
Unplanned weight loss,
Lasting cough, and
Pleural effusion and thickening are two common signs
of asbestos exposure. Pleural effusion is the buildup of
extra fluid in the pleural cavity (the space between the
two pleura layers). It is often the earliest sign of asbestos-
related disease. Pleural thickening is widespread scarring
of the pleural tissue. Pleural plaques are concentrated
areas of pleural thickening. Pleural plaques are the most
common sign of asbestos-related disease, but are not
believed to lead to cancer.
It is recommended that you get tested for
mesothelioma if you have had pleural effusion
more than once, have pleural thickening, or both.
To confirm if you have mesothelioma you will need
to be tested. The recommended tests are listed
and described next. These tests are used to find
mesothelioma, see how far the primary tumor has
spread, and plan treatment.
Chest CT (
omography) with contrast,
Pleural biopsy, and
Possible SMRP (
A CT scan is a type of imaging test. Imaging tests take
pictures of the insides of your body. A CT scan takes
many pictures of a body part from different angles
A CT of the chest is recommended for mesothelioma.
Your doctors will be able to see if tumors have formed
and the size of the tumors. They can also see if the
cancer has spread beyond the pleura.
A CT scan is easy to undergo. Before the test, you may
be asked to stop eating or drinking for several hours.