Why a Biopsy May be Essential for Making a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Mesothelioma & Asbestos Published on November 5, 2021 and updated on March 15, 2022.

mesothelioma in metal blocksMesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms it causes are like symptoms caused by many other illnesses. That is why patients need to see a doctor who regularly treats patients suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related medical issues.

While one of the first steps doctors may take is ordering various tests, like X-rays, MRIs or blood tests, conducting a biopsy may be the only way to confirm a patient has mesothelioma. This is a life-threatening illness that often leads to death within a year or a year and a half, as it is often not diagnosed until the later stages. Doctors need to be sure the patient is not suffering from another medical condition.

Below, we discuss the different types of biopsies that may be used to determine if a patient is suffering from mesothelioma. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, a former employer or another entity may be liable for your damages. The dangers of asbestos were widely known long when it was being used in numerous industries.

At The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, an initial consultation is 100 percent free and comes with no obligation to hire our firm. Our Maryland mesothelioma lawyers have secured millions on behalf of asbestos victims.

Why There is a Need for a Biopsy

How come doctors need to do a biopsy to diagnose mesothelioma?

Doctors need to view the cells inside a tumor under a microscope. That is the only way to truly confirm the cells are cancerous. Doctors can also determine the type of cancer cells in the tumor, which helps them to determine treatment options.

While doctors can learn a lot about a patient’s condition from blood tests and imaging tests, they need more information to be sure a patient has mesothelioma.

Types of Biopsies for Diagnosing Mesothelioma

A biopsy refers to the collection of fluid or a tissue sample from the affected area of the patient. The fluid or tissue is then put under a microscope to be analyzed.

When doctors assess a patient, they try to determine the type of biopsy that may be most appropriate. There are three main categories of biopsies for diagnosing mesothelioma: endoscopic, needle and surgical.


Doctors typically order this type of biopsy when they cannot reach the tumor with a needle or endoscope. There are two types of surgical biopsies: thoracotomy and laparotomy.

A thoracotomy involves an incision in the chest wall to study the affected area and take a tissue sample. There are cases when doctors may be able to remove the whole tumor. A laparotomy involves an incision in the abdominal wall so the doctor can take a sample or remove the entire tumor.

Endoscopic Biopsy

This procedure involves a thin tube with a camera on the end being inserted into tissue to examine it and collect a sample for further study.

There are three main types of endoscopic biopsy that may be used to diagnose mesothelioma: thoracoscopy, laparoscopy and mediastinoscopy.

A thoracoscopy is done to examine tissue inside the chest to diagnose pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the chest cavity and lining of the lungs. A laparoscopy uses a laparoscope to find tumors in the abdomen. This type of procedure is done on patients who doctors think may have peritoneal mesothelioma. A mediastinoscopy is done to take tissue from the space between the lungs, which may be necessary if the patient is suspected of having pericardial mesothelioma.

Needle Biopsy

This is usually the least invasive option for patients, as a thin needle is inserted to collect fluid that has built up. Sometimes a needle is inserted to get tissue from the lymph nodes.

The three main types of needle biopsies include: thoracentesis, paracentesis and pericardiocentesis.

A thoracentesis is done to drain fluid that has collected between the lungs and chest, with the goal of determining if a patient has pleural mesothelioma. A paracentesis drains excess fluid in the abdomen, which often happens in patients suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardiocentesis is done to drain fluid around the heart, if the patient is suspected of having pericardial mesothelioma.

Give Us a Call Today to Discuss Legal Options

We know how devastating it is for someone to be told he or she has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. For more than 30 years, we have been helping asbestos victims in their time of need.

We have extensive knowledge of the legal process and the importance of seeking legal representation after being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We work on contingency, which means no upfront fees for our services. We also do not get paid unless you get paid.

Schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we may be able to help you. We are deeply committed to your best interests.

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