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Mesothelioma Diagnosis

As we discussed in our Mesothelioma Symptoms page, mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to many other less-serious illnesses. First, your doctor should review your medical history information and study your work history to find out if you have had any potential asbestos exposure.

Then your physician should give you a complete physical examination to determine whether you have mesothelioma. Any of the following tests can help detect tumors or fluid in the lungs, either of which might lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis:

  • CAT Scan
  • Centisis: A needle is used to drain fluid in the lungs, chest or abdomen that is then examined to
  • make a diagnosis.
  • Chest X-ray
  • PET Scan
  • Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)
  • Thoracoscopy: A video camera inserted into the chest through an incision in the ribcage
  • Thoracotomy: A surgical procedure in which the chest is opened and examined on one side
  • between the two lower ribs
  • Transbronchial biopsy: A scope passed down the trachea to the bronchi area of the lungs to
  • collect a small tissue sample
  • (For a full list of terms relating to mesothelioma and asbestos, please visit our Glossary of Terms.)


Once you have a verified malignant mesothelioma diagnosis, your doctor will try to find out what stage the disease is in. Imaging tests such as MRIs or CT scans can help determine the cancer’s stage in a process called “staging.” There are five stages to malignant mesothelioma:

Stage I: Cancer is found in the pleura (the membrane covering the lungs). There may or may not be involvement of the pericardium (the lining of the heart) or diaphragm.

Stage II: Cancer is found in a Stage I location, and is also present in some lymph nodes in the chest.

Stage III: The cancer has spread into the chest wall, ribs, heart, diaphragm or peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen). Lymph nodes may also be involved.

Stage IV: The cancer has metastasized (spread through the bloodstream to other areas and organs in the body).

Recurrent Mesothelioma: The cancer has returned after successful treatment.

Any patient diagnosed with Stage I mesothelioma can expect a good chance of recovery with treatment, since the cancer is localized to one area of the body. Mesothelioma doctors consider stages II through IV advanced. Such cases are less likely to respond to a mesothelioma treatment option.

Learn as Much as You Can About Mesothelioma

At law firm of Harowitz & Tigerman, we are committed to helping people who are suffering from mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. To provide more mesothelioma information, we have built another entire Web site called The California Mesothelioma Help Center.

Our lawyers and staff are also always available to help. In a FREE initial consultation with one of our attorneys, we can answer your questions and tell you about your chances to get compensation for your injuries. Contact us immediately.

We offer our services on contingency, which means that we charge you no attorney’s fees until we win you money. If you are unable to make it to our San Francisco, CA law offices, our attorneys can come to you.

The mesothelioma lawyers of Harowitz & Tigerman dedicate their work to clients throughout California, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles and other communities throughout California. On our How We Can Help page we get further into the details of our work, and on our Cases page you can read about the successes that have resulted.