Mesothelioma Diagnosis-What are the 3 Different Types Of Biopsy that can be used?

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of asbestos related cancer that is most effectively treated when detected early. Unfortunately, the nature of the disease and the fact that it remains latent for decades usually results in late detection after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, making it extremely difficult to treat. One method used in the detection/diagnosis of mesothelioma is a surgical biopsy.

There are three different types of biopsies available for those who have developed mesothelioma. Biopsy involves the surgeon removing the tissue in question for laboratory examination. Three types of biopsy are:

1-Incisional biopsy or a core biopsy

In this type of biopsy only a small part of the tissue is removed. This type of biopsy is used most commonly when the tumor is located in an area that is easily reached for example in breast cancer, however in most cases of mesothelioma especially in the pleural and peritoneal form of the disease the tumor is not easily accessible. So this type of biopsy has very limited use in the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

2-Excisional biopsy

In Excisional biopsy the whole tumor mass is removed by the surgeon as compared to incisional biopsy in which just a small portion of the tumor mass is removed. Excisional biopsy naturally comes with greater risks. Surgery is more extensive and time consuming it is also more complicated and the surgeon end up removing a significant portion of the sensitive linings surrounding major organs. 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. When this method is used to collect samples in mesothelioma cancer, the surgeon makes use of certain equipments that help him guide the needle carefully to where the tumor is located. After the cells are removed from the body, a pathologist who is a doctor that specializes in diagnosing diseases using cellular structures examines the cells under a microscope to determine the diagnosis. The pathologist employs a number of different techniques to diagnose the cells after biopsy, but in most cases the pathologist removes a very thin layer of tissue from the sample, places it on a microscope slide, adds dye to make cells more visible, and seals the slide so it can be examined under a microscope.

A pathologist is trained to analyze abnormal cell growth, which can indicate mesothelioma as well as other diseases. Other techniques employed by the pathologist involves the use of biochemical specialized staining procedures to identify specific tumor markers on the cancer cells.

Biopsy also allows the pathologist to examine the possible spread of cancer to other parts of the body. When the tumors in the body are removed, the pathologist carefully examines the margins to see if cancer is present. "Negative margins" means the cancer has probably not spread; the appearance of "positive margins" means there is a good chance that the cancer has spread beyond that tumor mass the surgeon removed. Mesothelioma spreads quickly, so if the biopsy report indicates the presence of possible metastases, additional imaging tests like CTscans, X-rays, MRIscans, PET scans are used to locate the extent of spread.

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