Using Technology to Speed the Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Diagnosing mesothelioma is a painstaking process. Armed with the knowledge that you were exposed to asbestos, your physician may feel certain that you have the rare and fatal form of cancer, but those suspicions are not enough to move forward with treatment.

There are so many different subtypes of the disease that effective treatment requires exact and specific identification in order to get the best outcomes. Diagnosis of mesothelioma usually entails surgical biopsies, laboratory testing and long wait times, all of which delays the beginning of treatment.

Now, researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York have indicated that computed tomography (CT), an advanced diagnostic imaging tool, may provide a non-invasive and expedited way to identify a patient’s mesothelioma type and move the process along more quickly.

Computed tomography has long been used in diagnosing malignant mesothelioma and other cancers. Its technology assembles a series of images into a three-dimensional image that allows physicians a remarkable view of where fluid, masses and other abnormalities exist, all without the need for surgery.

CT scans can be done with or without contrast, which is a dye that is painlessly injected into the patient immediately before the procedure to provide a clearer sense of where certain types of cells exist, and this is where CT scans are proving particularly helpful in diagnosing pleural mesothelioma.

Since studies have shown that in some types of mesothelioma pleural plaques are more likely to calcify and CT can detect these calcifications, physicians are better able to identify the subtype and deliver the most appropriate treatment for the mesothelioma that the patient is suffering from.

According to radiologist Joanna Escalon, MD, “Calcified plaques are significantly more common in non-epithelioid subtypes compared with epithelioid malignant pleural mesothelioma. Given the different prognoses and management of malignant pleural mesothelioma subtypes, accurate noninvasive subtype classification is clinically vital.”

If you or someone you love has mesothelioma and you need more information on medical treatments available, the Patient Advocates at have the answers you’re looking for. Call us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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