The 5 Vital Facts You Need To Know About Mesothelioma Biopsies
The moment you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the lives of the people involved alter forever. The news is unsettling for family, friends and the patient themselves. Cancer can cause emotional tears along with the physical burden of extensive medical appointments. Mesothelioma is cancer that has recently been transformed through research over the past decade. With the new research comes new facts that can help make treatments and diagnosis easier than ever. Here are 5 crucial facts that can help patients navigate through their options when it comes to diagnosing their mesothelioma through biopsies and the meaning of their diagnosis!
- It all starts with a simple biopsy – To properly identify mesothelioma in a patient, a biopsy is crucial for detection. As with all cancers, a biopsy can clarify if a troubled area is cancerous or not. This test involves a medical professional taking a sample of the fluid or tissue of concern from the patient and then having a pathologist study the cells of the sample under a microscope. This pathologist can identify if the sample is positive or negative for cancer. The biopsy is ultimately a patient’s pathway to understanding their possible outcomes and outlooks.
- Mesothelioma biopsies work differently due to the similarity to other illnesses and cancers – Mesothelioma is a unique disease as it too often overlooked as a benign illness. The symptoms and cells for mesothelioma often mimic other cancers, making it difficult to identify mesothelioma without the proper biopsy performed. Like all cancer biopsies, the suspicious area is examined and extracted, but unlike normal biopsies, the specimen is extracted through testing of either Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) or Fine-Needle Aspiration (FNA). VATS is the most commonly used biopsy to diagnose mesothelioma. However, the choice of biopsy that is performed is dependent on many factors including which of the three primary cancerous cells that are detected, the location of the tumor, and type of tumor. With the proper diagnosis from a medical professional that is well versed in asbestos, cancers will help aid the accuracy of the actions taken.
- VATS works uniquely to be as minimally invasive as possible! – When a patient is at risk of pleural mesothelioma, a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery is often used to determine if the cells taken for a sample are cancerous. Doctors and surgeons often perform this procedure to take a look inside the patient. This minimally invasive surgery is the preferred biopsy for patients due to its short recovery time and a smaller chance of complications. During this procedure, surgeons will examine the area with a thin, tubular instrument. This instrument often has a camera, light, and tool to extract a sample from the area within it. This instrument is called an endoscope. The endoscope requires very minor incision for insertion into the body. If VATS is utilized and mesothelioma is detected, the next step is to determine what stage the cancer is currently at.
- A Thoracoscopy is the most accurate endoscopic procedure to be performed for diagnosis! – To correlate with specific regions of the body, there are different forms of endoscopic procedures that may be performed. Three of the most common are thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and mediastinoscopy. Thoracoscopy, however, is the primary procedure for mesothelioma as it focuses on the chest cavity of a patient. A sample of the fluid from this region is extracted and sent to pathology to determine if the fluid contains cancerous cells. This procedure helps the patient and medical provider understand if the area is benign or malignant. The thoracoscopy procedure has the highest accuracy percentage amongst the other two procedures with 95% proven accuracy upon diagnosis. Alongside the thoracoscopy, often a pleurodesis procedure is performed. This procedure is injected with the endoscope that is provided for the thoracoscopy and causes the area to inflame. When the area inflames, the cavity is then protected from the collecting cancerous fluid near the lungs.
- There are actually 4 stages of pleural mesothelioma – Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma that is diagnosed in Americans. With a large number of patients with pleural mesothelioma, it is important to understand how they all differ–and that is through stages. There are four different stages within the Pleural Mesothelioma. These stages can be differentiated by medical professionals who are experienced with asbestos type cancers. Determining the stage of the cancer is crucial to diagnosis for treatment. With the proper stage designated, the chances of curing the area are higher through proper treatment.
- Stage One – Within this stage, the cancer cells are isolated in one area. No other organs or body systems are infected including lymph nodes. Surgery for this stage can ultimately remove the tumor and therefore, cancer, from the patient.
- Stage Two – This stage means that cancer growth is larger and can possibly have infected the organs around the area. This can often include the diaphragm, surrounding lymph nodes and even lungs. If this is the case, surgery is possible but may not be feasible due to the growth.
- Stage Three – During stage 3 mesothelioma, the cancerous cells have now infected an entire area. Often times, the esophagus, diaphragm, lymph nodes, and lungs are affected, With this stage, surgery is very rarely an option, but various options may cause curable results.
- Stage Four – Stage 4 Mesothelioma is the final stage, all efforts for treatment are to cure discomfort and pain. Cancer has usually spread to other regions throughout the body. The mesothelioma has spread through the body and is no longer able to be cured.
These five facts can aid with a better diagnostic experience for the patient during this critical time in their lives. With proper diagnosis processes, it is easier for medical professionals to correlate a correct treatment for the patient. Understanding the importance of a biopsy, the stages of pleural mesothelioma, usage of a thoracoscopy procedure, the lack of discomfort during a VATs procedure, and the difference in a mesothelioma biopsy over other cancer biopsies can help a patient feel more comfortable about the choices they will have to make in front of medical professionals when the time is right.