At the GPUsually you begin by seeing your family doctor who will examine you and ask about your general health. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. This will include what they are, when you get them and whether anything you do makes them better or worse.
Your doctor will ask you to lie down for a physical examination. The doctor will feel the area where there is pain or swelling. It may feel tender, or it may be possible to feel a lump. Your doctor will listen to your chest, to see if there are any signs of fluid collecting.
After your examination, your doctor may need to refer you to hospital for tests and X-rays. You may be referred directly to a specialist. Or your GP may send you to hospital for some tests first.
If your doctor suspects you may have mesothelioma, you may have quite a few tests. This is because it can be difficult to diagnose. Many of the usual tests used to diagnose lung disease prove negative when used to diagnose mesothelioma.
You may have
- CT scan
- Thoracoscopy (and biopsy of the pleura)
- Fluid drainage (thoracocentesis or abdoparacentesis)
Fluid build up happens because cancer cells are irritating the pleura or peritoneum. Fluid in the plura can make it difficult to breathe. Fluid in the abdomen can make the abdomen feel swollen and tight and uncomfortable. If mesothelioma is the cause of the fluid build up, the fluid may contain cancer cells. To drain the fluid off, a needle is put into the chest or abdominal cavity and the fluid drained through a tube into a bag. A sample of the fluid will be sent to a laboratory for testing to see if contains cancer cells. Your doctor may call this 'thoracocentesis' or pleural aspiration if you are having fluid removed from your chest. If you are having fluid removed from your tummy (abdomen), you may hear your doctor call it an abdoparacentesis or peritoneal aspiration.