Mesothelioma doctors specialize in treating patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. These physicians have years of practice and expert knowledge in the field of mesothelioma. As such, they are the most well equipped to help patients through their illness.
When an individual does develop the symptoms of mesothelioma, his or her general practitioner may initially misdiagnose the ailment, since these symptoms often resemble those of other conditions. If the doctor is aware that the patient was previously exposed to asbestos, especially over a prolonged period of time, the likelihood of properly diagnosing the mesothelioma is greater. At this point, the doctor will refer the patient to a mesothelioma specialist.
To properly diagnose a patient with mesothelioma, the mesothelioma doctor must conduct a thorough examination. This includes conducting a full physical exam to better understand the patient's overall mental and physical health, including an analysis of the patient's symptoms. Then, the physician will order an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan in order to look for masses, tumors, or pleural thickening, which may further indicate the presence of cancer.
For mesothelioma doctors to make a proper diagnosis, the doctor must either do a needle biopsy or an open biopsy. A needle biopsy is not as intrusive as an open biopsy because the physician inserts a thin needle into the affected area. He or she then removes some of the suspected cancer cells before sending them to a lab for testing.
An open biopsy, however, is much more common in suspected mesothelioma cases. It involves the surgeon opening up the patient to take out a portion of the suspected tumor. As with the needle biopsy, the doctor sends the sample to a lab, where a pathologist will look closely at the sampled cells and decide whether they are benign or malignant. If they are malignant, the pathologist will also determine the histology of the cells, or the cell type.
There are three types of mesothelioma cells: epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. The type of cell present may help determine treatment. Once the lab specialist evaluates the sample, he or she will send the results back to the mesothelioma doctor, who will then notify the patient of the results. Either way, the doctor will discuss treatment options at this time.
Below you will find a list of some well know mesothelioma specialists: