In very severe stages of the disease, symptoms may include blood clots, severe organ bleeding, jaundice, low blood sugar, pleural effusion, pulmonary embolism, and severe ascites. The cancer most commonly spreads to the liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, or the other lung (after initially developing in one side only).
How to Test for Mesothelioma?
There are a wide variety of tests for mesothelioma, simple blood tests to imaging tests to surgical biopsies.
A standard blood test will look at the levels of three specific substances: fibulib-3, osteopontin, and soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs). If these levels are elevated, it can often be a signal of mesothelioma. However, a blood test alone isn’t enough to diagnose mesothelioma.
If you are experiencing a build-up of fluid in the lungs, chest, or abdomen, a doctor can remove a sample of that fluid with a needle and examine it for cancer cells. This test goes by different names, depending on where the fluid is. Thoracentesis is for the chest cavity, paracentesis is for the abdomen, and pericardiocentesis is for the membrane surrounding the heart.
If the fluid tests are inconclusive, your doctor will likely move onto tissue tests, which are acquired through biopsies. Several different types of biopsies…
Your doctor will insert a long, hollow needle into the skin, which will remove a tiny piece of the tumor or tissue. They may also use imaging equipment to help guide the needle. The tissue will be tested, and a diagnosis might follow. In some cases, the piece of tissue is too small and more invasive procedures are required.