The National Cancer Institute’s definition of screening for cancer is the examination or testing of people for early signs of certain type of cancer even though they have no symptoms – this is the best way to achieve a diagnosis as early as possible. Early detection and diagnosis is particularly important for people with historical exposure to asbestos due to the latency period (up to 50 years) before which symptoms of malignant mesothelioma cancer may become apparent.
Sometimes more invasive tests are required which may include screening methods for diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases using various imaging tests. In addition to regular X-rays, imaging tests include:
- Computed Tomography / CT Scan. Computed tomography is a recently developed special radiographic technique. Usually a spiral CT scan, it produces a clear cross-sectional image allowing a radiologist to see distinct aspects of the lung or pleura not readily apparent from a standard X-ray image.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
Screening Methods to Identify Asbestos-Related Disease
After a preliminary physical examination, your doctor may employ the following procedures to find out more about your condition:
- Thoracoscopy – A scope is used to look inside your chest cavity. A small cut will be made in your chest and a small piece of tissue may be removed for examination (biopsy) during the procedure. While you may feel some pressure, there is usually no pain.
- Peritoneoscopy uses another specialized instrument that allows for examination inside your abdomen. A scope is inserted into an opening made in the abdomen, and a biopsy specimen may also be taken.
- If the presence of fluid is indicated by either of these procedures, the doctor may drain it by inserting a needle into the affected area. Removal of chest fluid is called thoracentesis. Removal of abdominal fluid is call paracentesis.