Mesothelioma symptoms closely mimic those of many other respiratory health conditions, ranging from the seemingly benign cough to severe pain in the chest and abdomen. For this reason, obtaining a precise diagnosis of mesothelioma often involves a number of techniques, including imaging scans, biopsies, and lab work. Among the more popular imaging scans for the diagnosis of mesothelioma is the magnetic resonance image (MRI). For many mesothelioma patients, the MRI is able to make a definitive diagnosis better than any other imaging device currently available.
First developed in the 1970’s, the MRI represented a more sophisticated and total imaging technique than the related Computer Topography (CT) scan. The MRI utilizes magnetic fields, radio waves, and computer imaging to construct three-dimensional images of selected areas of the internal body structures. The MRI tends to be much clearer than X-rays and CT scans, and is able to make a much more distinctive separation image between cancerous tissue and healthy tissue.
A doctor or cancer specialist may recommend an MRI in a number of instances for mesothelioma cancer patients. As a diagnostic technique, the MRI allows for physicians to verify the presence of cancerous cells before biopsies confirm those as that of mesothelioma. As a staging tool, a physician may examine an MRI to determine the exact location of the cancer to assign a staging and treatment protocol. In asbestos cancer patients who are candidates for surgical resection, the MRI allows for surgeons to determine the exact location and extent of the cancerous cells in order to form a preoperative plan for resection.
For many, an MRI is not an entirely comfortable procedure. While the procedure itself is not an invasive one, it often involves an extended duration of sustained motionless examination. While many MRIs are done in “tubes”- where the patient will lie on their back for several minutes, newer models of the equipment are designed to make patients more comfortable and less claustrophobic during the scan. In many cases, relaxing music is played to ease patient anxieties during the procedure.
MRIs are an extremely valuable tool in determining a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis, and as such, all patients are encouraged to undergo one if their doctor or cancer specialist believes it to be in their best interest. For more information on magnetic resonance imaging or other diagnosis and mesothelioma treatment information, please fill out the brief form on this page and we’ll send you a comprehensive mesothelioma information packet.
National Cancer Institute: Cancer Imaging