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Tests Used for Staging Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a difficult disease to diagnose and stage.  One of the most important components of establishing an accurate diagnosis as well as determining the precise stage of the disease is combining the results of numerous medical tests.  Once a patient’s disease is classified into a particular stage, the most appropriate treatment that gives a patient the best chance for survival and quality of life will be initiated.

Mesothelioma Staging Tests

Imaging Studies:

  • X-rays:  An x-ray may help show the presence of a tumor and whether there is any fluid build-up in the lungs or abdomen.  Additional tests are needed to show disease progression.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan:  CT scans are routinely used to help physicians determine the progression of many cancers including mesothelioma.  They show more detailed images than the traditional x-rays.  The location and size of the tumor can be determined.  The images may reveal whether there is any metastasis or spreading of the disease.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan:  An MRI is a test that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images of tissues and organs inside the body.  Physicians are able to differentiate between cancerous tissue and healthy tissue.  The MRI is an important tool that helps doctors establish the specific stage of mesothelioma.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan:  The PET scan is helpful in showing whether the mesothelioma cancer has spread beyond its original point of origin to other organs in the body.  Patients are given a small amount of radioactive material known as a radiotracer.  When they are placed in the imaging machine, the radiotracer will go to the parts of the body that contain cancer.  Three-dimensional images are created on a computer monitor where specialists can interpret the findings.


  • Thoracoscopy:  A thoracoscopy is a test used most often to diagnose pleural mesothelioma.  Patients are administered either general or local anesthesia.  A physician will make one or more small incisions in the chest wall.  A tube with a camera is inserted allowing physicians to visualize any abnormalities.  Tissue or cell samples can be obtained and later analyzed in the lab to determine the presence of cancer.
  • Laparoscopy:  This test is used to diagnose and stage peritoneal mesothelioma.  A doctor will make one or more small incisions in the abdomen and insert a tube with a camera attached.  This allows the medical team to visualize the abdominal cavity and determine the presence of cancer.  Biopsies can be obtained and sent to the lab for examination.
  • Mediastinoscopy:  A surgical procedure to evaluate whether the lymph nodes in the center of the chest are affected.  Patients receive general anesthesia and a small incision is made in the neck or upper chest. Doctors are able to visualize the area and collect samples.
  • Thoracotomy:  A more extensive surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the chest wall to obtain a tissue sample or a small portion of the tumor itself.
  • Laparotomy:  An open biopsy in which an incision is made in the abdomen to directly remove a sampling of tissue or tumor for analysis.  Surgeons have a direct visualization of the disease progression.

Blood tests:

  • MESOMARK Assay:  This is the only mesothelioma blood test approved by the FDA.  It measures the amount of a protein called soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) in a patient’s blood.  Some cancer cells including mesothelioma produce this specific protein.  Higher levels are indicative of a more advanced stage of the disease.  When staging a patient’s mesothelioma disease, this test is used in conjunction with other test results.
  • SOMAscan:  This blood test looks for the presence of 13 proteins that have been linked to mesothelioma.  This test is indicated for patients with a history of asbestos exposure.  If theses protein biomarkers are detected, patients may be able to have their disease diagnosed in Stage I or Stage II.

Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler: Lawyers in Philadelphia Committed to Representing Mesothelioma Victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact law firm of Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler.  For the past 30 years, our attorneys have been successfully representing asbestos exposure and mesothelioma victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Advocating on our client’s behalf, we are able to secure the fair and just compensation that is deserved.  To schedule a free consultation with our experienced Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys, call us today at (215) 569-4000 or toll free at (888) 740-0925.  You may also contact us online.

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