NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Part 3: Testing for mesothelioma
You also should remove any metal objects that are on
your body. You will likely be asked to change into a
hospital gown to wear during the test.
A contrast dye may be used to make the pictures clearer.
The dye will be injected into your vein. It may cause
you to feel flushed or get hives. Rarely, serious allergic
reactions occur. Tell your doctor if you have had bad
As shown in Figure 3, a CT machine is large and has
a tunnel in the middle. During the test, you will need
to lie on a table that moves slowly through the tunnel.
Pillows or straps may be used to keep you still during the
test. You will be alone, but a technician will operate the
machine in a nearby room. He or she will be able to see,
hear, and speak with you at all times.
As the machine takes pictures, you may hear buzzing,
clicking, or whirring sounds. Earplugs are sometimes
worn to block these sounds. A computer combines all
pictures into one detailed picture. A CT scan is done in
about 30 seconds, but the entire process is completed
in 30 minutes. You may not learn of the results for a
few days since a radiologist needs to see the pictures.
To confirm if there’s cancer, a sample of tissue or fluid
must be removed from your body. The removal of a
tissue or fluid sample is called a biopsy. Thoracentesis
is a type of biopsy that removes a fluid sample from the
pleural cavity. See Figure 4. For thoracentesis, your
skin will be cleaned and numbed with local anesthesia.
Next, a needle will be inserted between your ribs into
your chest to get the fluid. You may be given an x-ray
before the biopsy to guide the needle into your chest and
afterward to check if the biopsy went well. The fluid will
then be sent to a lab to be tested for cancer cells and
biomarkers of cancer, such as cytokeratin.
Figure 3. CT scan