Less commonly used tests
Learn more about these less commonly used tests:
The specialised PET or positron emission tomography scan is being used more often. It is available at some major hospitals and may not be covered by Medicare for mesothelioma.
How it’s done – For the PET scan, a small amount of radioactive glucose solution will be injected into a vein, usually in your arm. You will need to sit quietly for 30–90 minutes while the solution travels through your body. Your whole body will then be scanned for raised levels of radioactive glucose. Cancer cells show up brighter on the scan pictures because they are more active and take up more of the glucose solution than normal cells do.
To confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the pathologist sometimes needs to do further tests on the tissue sample using special stains. These look for specific molecules that may help to tell mesothelioma apart from other types of cancer.
Sometimes a fluid sample rather than a tissue sample may be used to make a diagnosis because it’s easy to collect fluid when draining the pleural cavity. However, it can be hard to diagnose mesothelioma from fluid samples because abnormal mesothelioma cells can look similar to other cells.
Some specialist centres are experienced in diagnosing mesothelioma using fluid samples. To be accurate, this technique needs to be done at a specialist centre, a large volume of fluid must be collected, and the results have to be combined with information from an x-ray and CT scan. Using fluid samples for diagnosing mesothelioma may be useful if you are not well enough for a biopsy.
|Sometimes, even after several tests, the doctors may be unsure of the diagnosis and some of the tests may need to be repeated.|
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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