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Pleural Mesothelioma Patients Can Utilize Less Invasive Biopsy Procedure

Mesothelioma is a rare and always fatal form of cancer that can be difficult to diagnose. The condition is extremely rare and is only diagnosed in approximately 3,500 patients a year. One of the difficulties in diagnosing the disease is that one of the only definitive diagnostic tools is a surgical biopsy that may be too invasive and difficult for some patients. Now a new study conducted by researchers at the Centre for Respiratory Medicine at Oxford University has found that a much less invasive procedure may be used to good effect.

Though scientists have long been familiar with the less-invasive method, called cutting-needle biopsy, there had been concerns that the small tissue sample that it yielded would not provide enough usable information as compared to the more invasive procedure known as thoracoscopy, which yields a larger sample.

The researchers analyzed the results of fifty different ultrasound guided cutting-needle biopsies that had been performed at their venue, and determined that for certain patients whose treatment is challenged by specific aspects of their physical condition, the less invasive procedure provided a better alternative.

According to lead author Rob Halifax, MSc, “Thoracoscopy is not always possible in frail patients, if pleural fluid is heavily loculated, or where the lung is adherent to the chest wall. Such cases can be converted during the same procedure as attempted thoacoscopy to cutting-needle biopsy.”

The study found that of the fifty patients analyzed, in 84% of the cases the samples that were taken during cutting needle biopsy were able to provide a clear enough result to either diagnose mesothelioma or eliminate it as a possibility. Results were published in the journal Chest.

For those in need of an answer to what is causing their various symptoms, previous concerns about the effectiveness or their candidacy for the invasive procedure can get significant relief of their concerns. Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease, and the key to having the most options available is to diagnose it as early as possible. Having the possibility of being able to get a sufficient tissue sample from a biopsy, even in the midst of a failed thoracoscopy, offers these patients improved chances for longer survival rates and improved quality of life.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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