What to Know About Mesothelioma Biopsy?

Mesothelioma Biopsy involves removing sample tissues or fluids and examining them for cancer. This is the best and only way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis. It also helps doctors to select appropriate treatment options for the specific case.

There are many types of biopsies available. But doctors may choose a specific biopsy or multiple biopsies depending on the patient’s symptoms

What is Mesothelioma Biopsy?

Normally, doctors analyze the symptoms with imaging tests. If they suspect any abnormalities, they order blood tests to find the specific biomarkers. After that, they suggest a biopsy to confirm the diagnose.

Biopsy, in general, is collecting the suspicious tissues or fluids and analyzing them for possible conditions. This is the best way to confirm benign or malignant tumors. After that, the doctors may order further tests depending on specific cases.

In other words, doctors use mesothelioma biopsy to confirm the results of a mesothelioma diagnosis. It also shows the cell type (sarcomatoid, epithelioid, or biphasic), helping doctors to choose the best treatment options.

What Are the Types of Mesothelioma Biopsy Tests?

Generally, medical experts use Endoscopic (camera-assisted) biopsies, needle biopsies, and Surgical biopsies to detect mesothelioma. Doctors choose them based on the tumor’s location.

Endoscopic Biopsy

These are mostly, noninvasive procedures. The doctors insert a small, fine tube, attached with a camera, light, and also built-in tools inside the patient’s body. Eventually, this helps them to see the affected tissues and extract them without making a major incision.


1.) The surgeons provide general anesthesia to the patients.
2.) After that, they insert an endoscope into the abdominal cavity. Then, they visualize the location of cancerous tissues for collection.
3.) Finally, the surgeons use a built-in tool and other thin tools to extract the samples of affected tissues. The endoscopy is then removed from the body
4.) They keep the patient in the recovery room until the anesthetic effects wear off and he returns to normal.
5.) Pathologists begin analyzing the sample tissues.

Types of Procedures


Generally, surgeons use this procedure on pleural mesothelioma patients. They remove the excess fluids between the ribs inserting an endoscope. Then, they examine the interiors and collect tissue samples.

VAS (Video-Assisted Thoracoscopy) has an excellent track record of accurately diagnosing pleural mesothelioma.


In this procedure, the surgeons make a small cut above the breastbone. Then, they insert a mediastinoscope to the chest through this cut. They collect the tissue samples from the lymph nodes, located around the airways. Finally, they take the device out and close the cut.

The surgeons most often use this procedure to diagnose pleural mesothelioma cases. This also helps them to determine the development stage of the cells.


The surgeons prefer this procedure for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. They insert an endoscope into the abdominal cavity through an abdominal incision. Then, they examine the interiors of the abdominal cavity and extract the tissue samples.

Needle Biopsy

Fine-needle aspiration is a safe and quick procedure. It involves a syringe with a long, hollow needle, that can take up to 10,000 sample cells. Typically, the surgeons use imageries such as ultrasound or CT scans to determine the inserting location.

Medical experts suggest needle biopsy for peritoneal mesothelioma. This procedure can also be used for pleural mesothelioma. But the results may not be as accurate as thoracoscopic surgery.

Moreover, there is a risk of blood collecting between the lung and chest wall, in pleural space, associated with this procedure. This condition is medically called hemothorax.


1.) The medical staff clean and apply local anesthesia to the area, where the needle is about to be inserted. They also position the patient appropriately, so that, the doctors can perform the procedure easily.
2.) The doctors use imageries (CT scan, ultrasound, etc.) to find the exact location for inserting the needle. Then, they insert it into the abdominal or chest cavity and extract the sample tissue.
3.) After that, they remove the needle, cleanse the incision and cover it with a bandage. Moreover, there is no need for painful sutures.

It takes about 10 minutes to complete the whole procedure. Finally, they send the samples to pathologists for detailed analysis.

Similar Procedures

Experts do not consider paracentesis and thoracentesis as true biopsy procedures. However, they can treat fluid buildup around the areas of the abdomen and lungs respectively. They can also provide fluid samples for analysis.


Generally, this procedure is done under local anesthesia. It drains the fluid built up around the lungs. The doctors insert a needle (ultrasound probe) between the ribs to remove the fluid built up from the pleural membrane.

However, this can collect only the fluids and not the tissues. Therefore, it cannot be used for official mesothelioma diagnosis. The medical staff, in most cases, use these fluids to find the causes of their built-up (pleural effusions).


Paracentesis is performed in a similar way as thoracentesis. But it is done in the peritoneum and not in the pleural membrane. This method also collects only the fluid built-up and not the samples of tissues.

Therefore, it cannot be used to accurately diagnose mesothelioma. But it can help find the cause of the fluid buildup (ascites).

Surgical Biopsy

Generally, doctors perform this procedure, when other less invasive procedures do not provide accurate conclusions. They may also use this procedure when endoscopes or needles cannot reach the tumor location. Some experts use this procedure to collect larger tissue samples.


1.) Medical staff provides general anesthesia to the patients.
2.) The surgeons make a surgical incision and access the tumor.
3.) Then, they collect the required tissue sample.
4.) Finally, they cover the surgical incision
5.) The medical staff shifts the patients to the recovery room, where they recover shortly after. Some patients may also require a short hospital stay before they go home.

Types of Procedures


In this procedure, the surgeons make a large incision in the affected areas of the chest cavity. Then, they remove the suspected tissue samples and cover the incision.


In this procedure, the surgeons make a large incision in the affected areas of the abdomen. After that, they remove the suspected tissue samples. Finally, they cover the incision.

During these procedures, doctors, sometimes, may decide to perform emergency surgery. This is to remove some sections of the visualized cancerous tissues.

What is the information that Mesothelioma Biopsy Provides?

Mesothelioma Biopsy confirms cell type and its malignancy status. In addition to the collection of samples, doctors may get a better idea of metastasis of cancer, specific to patients.

Generally, the pathologists take some days, even weeks to analyze the samples in detail. After receiving the results, the medical team communicates them with patients.

The Mesothelioma doctors use the results also to understand the prognosis of specific patients. Then, they make an appropriate treatment plan and discuss it with patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Biphasic Mesothelioma – What to Know?
Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma – What to know?

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