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Biopsies are the only definitive technique to diagnose mesothelioma. Even though other tests can detect the potential presence of a tumor, a tissue sample taken by biopsy can be analyzed under a microscope to determine the mesothelioma cell form and other attributes.
By nature, biopsies are surgical operations, though the level of invasiveness differs significantly depending on the type of biopsy a patient undergoes. This page offers information regarding several of these styles of biopsy and how they affect mesothelioma patients during the diagnostic process.
Mesothelioma is a sudden and devastating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This terminal disease occurs unexpectedly usually 20 to 40 or more years after asbestos exposure. Anyone can be exposed from everyday locations, such as homes, workplaces, schools, and even by direct contact with someone who has asbestos dust contamination on their clothes. Wives and children of workers that were exposed to asbestos have also been shown to be at risk of this disease as a result of personal exposure to asbestos dust on their loved one’s clothing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is no evidence of any asbestos exposure level that is considered safe. In conclusion, there is not a certain level of exposure that can decrease your chance of developing the disease. All levels will may lead to this unfortunate disease.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, seek out a mesothelioma experienced physician as soon as possible in order to receive proper treatment. If diagnosis is early you will have access to a wider array of treatment opportunities with more promising results. Additional information and statistics about mesothelioma can be found within this section.
When are biopsies performed?
In the majority of instances, taking a biopsy is the last stage of the mesothelioma diagnosis process. If the patient’s symptoms, imaging tests, and blood tests all point to the possibility for mesothelioma, the doctor will in most cases order a biopsy to be carried out to confirm the diagnosis definitely.
The most significant reason that biopsies are held until all the other tests are performed is that they are invasive by nature. Numerous biopsies are surgical operations in themselves, and for that reason come with the similar risks that various other surgeries bring, including infection or additional complications. As an end result, biopsies are only carried out if the signs all point to mesothelioma (or some other form of cancer).
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.
Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
After being diagnosed with Mesothelioma, it is suggested that treatment options should be aggressively explored with mesothelioma experienced physicians. There are a number of treatment options for Mesothelioma through surgery, radiation therapy and certain chemotherapy. Several surgeons have pioneered progressive surgical options for mesothelioma victims, including Dr. Harvey Pass, (NYU Langone Cancer Center), Dr. David Sugarbaker (Baylor College of Medicine) and Dr. Raphael Bueno (Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Research on the most effective chemotherapy regimens continues and to date Alimta and Cisplatin have been shown to be very helpful in some patients. ALIMTA is a treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a cancer that affects the inside lining of the chest cavity. ALIMTA is used with cisplatin, another anticancer medicine (chemotherapy), when surgery is not an option.
Some Mesothelioma patients may want to explore the latest experimental treatment options and clinical trials. Certain non-conventional alternative therapies are being studied and may provide some benefit to patients with Mesothelioma. Understanding that all forms of Mesothelioma are rare and are considered a form of lethal cancer, it is critical to discuss all available treatment options with your family and the best Mesothelioma expert treating internists, pulmonologists, oncologists and surgeons.
Mesothelioma Biopsy Types
There are three primary types of biopsies that mesothelioma patients may undergo: needle biopsies, camera-assisted biopsies, and open surgery biopsies. Which biopsy procedure is recommended depends on the location of the tumor or where mesothelioma symptoms are presenting (such as fluid buildup around the lungs).
Needle biopsies are considered closed (i.e., non-surgical) procedures. The procedure uses either a small- or large-bore needle to extract fluid containing cancer cells from around the area of the tumor.
In most cases, patients are awake during needle biopsies. The doctor may use an ultrasound or CT camera guidance to help guide needle placement.
The benefit of needle biopsies is that the procedure is very fast, it does not severely impact the body, and it requires little or no recovery time. However, needle biopsies are also limited in that they may not pick up enough cancer cells to perform the histological analysis required for a definitive diagnosis. Therefore, in some cases, doctors may follow up with a surgical biopsy if the needle biopsy comes back negative for mesothelioma.
Camera-assisted biopsies are considered “minimally invasive” procedures. While they technically qualify as surgery, they require only a small incision, into which a tube containing a camera can be inserted and a tissue sample can be removed. Unlike needle biopsies, the patient is often given general anesthesia during camera-assisted biopsies.
The main benefit of a camera-assisted biopsy is that it lets doctors visually inspect the tumor within the body, and then obtain a tissue sample that is large enough for proper analysis. As a surgical procedure, camera-assisted biopsies do contain certain risks; however, camera-assisted biopsies are still less invasive than open surgery biopsies, and recovery is relatively quick overall.
Surgical biopsies are open procedures that are much more invasive than either needle biopsies or camera-assisted biopsies. Due to their invasive nature, doctors tend to take a more conservative approach, prescribing them only when less invasive biopsies yield inconclusive results, or when the area is hard to reach using a needle or endoscope.
The biggest advantage of surgical biopsy is access to the area from which a tissue sample needs to be taken. The tradeoff is that surgical biopsies require a general anesthesia, and they usually need much more recovery time than other types of biopsy.
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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer
The only known cause of Mesothelioma is Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940’s through as late as the 1990’s in some cases. Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of Mesothelioma Victims. Understanding that Mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, this directly means that whoever exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust is responsible for their death.
Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White have been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We strongly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist all persons diagnosed with Mesothelioma.
Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos. People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990’s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust. A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940’s through the 1990’s could have been exposed to Asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.
The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins. Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.
What Happens After the Biopsy?
The primary goal of the biopsy is to get hold of enough cancerous cells to perform analysis under a microscope. This analysis is an essential part of the mesothelioma diagnosis process.
Particularly, when a tissue sample is obtained, it will be transferred off to a research laboratory where a pathologist will conduct histological analysis (for surgical or camera-assisted biopsies) or cytological evaluation (for needle biopsies). These analyses use a series of examination to identify whether mesothelioma cancer is present, as well as help determine the cell type, prognosis, and stage of the disease.
If a mesothelioma diagnosis is determined, the medical professional will share the results with you and begin developing a treatment plan.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Adenocarcinoma and other lung cancers
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Other cancers affecting abdominal organs
Coronary artery disease
Other heart-related cancers, such as synovial sarcoma
Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Only the best, just for you.
Dr. Raphael Bueno is the Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research at Boston’s Brigham and
Dr. Harvey Pass is a renowned thoracic surgeon that has dedicated his career to bringing increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Dr. Robert Brian Cameron currently serves as the Director of Thoracic Oncology at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.
Dr. David Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Lary A. Robinson is currently the Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
As director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, Anne Tsao M.D. is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on malignant mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is Commonly Misdiagnosed
All forms of Mesothelioma cancer are often misdiagnosed in early stages. This is partially due to the fact that many mesothelioma symptoms resemble the symptoms of other diseases. Mesothelioma is extremely rare and doctors may be more inclined to diagnose a more common disease first. Misdiagnosis can differ depending on the form of mesothelioma a patient may have or how common the displayed symptoms may be with other diseases.
On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we strongly recommend you consult a Mesothelioma experienced medical physician for any advice related to treatment options and care. We care deeply about your situation and only want the very best for you & your family. We have some of Top Mesothelioma Doctors & latest Clinical Trials listed and linked on our website. Why not check out the Top Mesothelioma Doctors page or even the Clinical Trials page for more accurate information on who can help you & what new clinical trials are available to apply for. We also have some of the Top Cancer Centers listed and linked on our website.
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