Tests for pleural mesothelioma
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Blood tests and x-rays can provide information about your overall health and help to rule out other conditions.
You will have blood taken to check your general health and let your doctors know how your blood cells, liver and kidneys are working. This helps them work out whether you’re fit enough for treatment. Mesothelioma does not usually show up with a blood test, but results may show substances called markers that are produced by cancer cells.
If your doctor thinks you have pleural mesothelioma, you will have a chest x-ray to look for any changes in the lungs, thickening of the pleura, and fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall.
If fluid, thickening or other changes are found, you will need more tests to check whether mesothelioma or another condition is the cause. Sometimes mesothelioma will not show up on an x-ray but can be seen on a CT scan.
Waiting for test results
Waiting for test results can be a difficult time. It’s common to feel anxious about what will happen if you do have mesothelioma. It may help to focus on recovering from the tests and on any improvements in symptoms. Some results are available within a few days, but others take several weeks. In some cases, you may need to have more tests before doctors are sure you have mesothelioma. Ask your doctor or nurse how long the test results will take.
It may help to talk to a family member or friend about how you’re feeling. They’re probably also feeling anxious.
If you need support or want to learn more about what a mesothelioma diagnosis will mean for you, contact one of the support organisations or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
A/Prof Brian McCaughan, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Theodora Ahilas, Principal Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, NSW; Prof David Ball, Director, Lung Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Shirley Bare, Consumer; Cassandra Dickens, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Care Coordinator – Thoracic Malignancies, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Penny Jacomos, Social Worker, Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia, SA; A/Prof Thomas John, Medical Oncologist, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Austin Health, and Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, VIC; Victoria Keena, Executive Officer, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, NSW; Penny Lefeuvre, Consumer; Jocelyn McLean, Mesothelioma Support Coordinator, Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, NSW; Prof David Morris, Peritonectomy Surgeon, St George Hospital and University of New South Wales, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Prof Anna Nowak, Medical Oncologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, WA; Prof Jennifer Philip, Palliative Care Specialist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Nicole Taylor, Acting Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, The Canberra Hospital, ACT. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. Previous editions of this title and related resources were funded in part by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities and a donation from Lyall Watts.
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