Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size

Mesothelioma: Tests, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Mesothelioma Tests continued...

Surgical Biopsy. In some cases, more invasive procedures may be needed to get a large enough tissue sample to make a diagnosis. In that case, a surgeon may perform a thoracotomy (opening the chest cavity) or laparotomy (opening the abdominal cavity) to remove a larger sample of tumor or the whole tumor.

Bronchoscopic Biopsy. This procedure involves passing a long, thin, flexible tube down the throat to examine the airways for tumors. If a tumor is found, the doctor can remove a small sample of it through the tube.

Imaging Tests. These tests allow your doctor to view the inside of your body noninvasively. Imaging tests commonly used in mesothelioma diagnosis include:

  • Chest X-ray. An X-ray of the chest may show abnormal thickening of or calcium deposits on the lung lining, fluid in the space between the lungs and chest wall or changes in the lungs, which could suggest mesothelioma. 
  • Computed Tomography (CT). The CT scan is a procedure that uses multiple X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. CT scans are often used to look for signs of cancer, help determine the location of the cancer, and to check if the cancer has spread.
  • Positron Emission tomography (PET). This test involves giving an injection of a compound containing a radioactive atom and then taking pictures of the body. Cancer cells absorb large amounts of radioactive compound and show up brighter than normal tissue on the images. Doctors then focus further tests on these areas of potential cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed images of the body. Because they provide detailed images of soft tissues, they may help your doctor determine the tumor's location. For mesotheliomas that involve the diaphragm (a dome-shaped muscle under the lungs), MRI scans may be particularly useful.


Mesothelioma Prognosis

Certain factors affect mesothelioma prognosis as well as your options for mesothelioma treatment. They include the following:

  • The stage of the cancer, or the extent of cancer in the body. The stage is usually based on the size of the tumor, whether there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes, and whether cancer has spread beyond its original site.
  • The size of the mesothelioma.
  • Whether the mesothelioma can be removed completely by surgery.
  • The amount of fluid in the chest or abdomen.
  • Your age and general health.
  • The type of mesothelioma cells.
  • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has already been treated and come back.


Mesothelioma Treatments

Treatment for mesothelioma depends on a number of factors, including those mentioned above. Three standard types of treatment are used: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Treating mesothelioma often involves a combination of two or all three.

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.

Bronchitis Overview
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
Living With Copd
Energy Boosting Foods

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cigarette butts snuffed out in ashtray
Healthy Home Health Check
Senior woman stretching
Diagnosing Copd

WebMD Special Sections