A conclusive mesothelioma diagnosis usually requires a biopsy, or the removal of a sample of cells or tissue for examination under the microscope. This can be a frightening experience for an already-nervous patient. Understanding the reasons for taking a biopsy and what the procedure entails can help ease the patient’s worries.
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What’s the problem?
If tests and health history are consistent with mesothelioma, a surgical biopsy allows the doctor to make a conclusive diagnosis. The biopsy is an effective diagnostic tool, but it is not used first because the removal of a sample of cells or tissue is more invasive than a simple x-ray or blood draw.
Types of Mesothelioma Biopsies
Different procedures are used to collect cell or tissue samples, depending on the suspected location of the cancer. These include:
1- Incisional biopsy or a core biopsy
In this type of biopsy, only a small part of the tissue is removed. Incisional biopsies are used most commonly when the tumor is located in an area that is easily reached.
2- Excisional biopsy
In excisional biopsies, the whole tumor mass is removed by the surgeon. Excisional biopsies naturally come with greater risks. Surgery is more extensive and time consuming; however, it is always better to operate once very extensively than to make the patient undergo the same operation twice once the laboratory tests on the tissue samples confirm the cancer.
3- Fine needle aspiration biopsy
The third type of diagnostic biopsy is called needle aspiration biopsy. In many cases, this is the technique most preferred by surgeons because it is a safe, quick procedure. Although most often used for tumors that are close to the skin”s surface, needle aspiration biopsy (also called fine needle aspiration cytology or fine needle aspiration) can also be used to diagnose mesothelioma. Essentially, this technique uses a long, hollow needle to remove a sample of cells from the body to be tested and properly diagnosed.
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