Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Biopsy for mesothelioma

Biopsy for mesothelioma

Biopsies can be retrieved through a needle or an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube used to see inside the body.

Endoscopic biopsies that may be performed to diagnose mesothelioma include:

  • Thoracoscopy: Used to examine the inside of the chest and obtain a biopsy
  • Mediastinoscopy: Inserted into the chest to look at the space between the lungs and obtain a biopsy.
  • Bronchoscopy: Used to examine and biopsy tissue in the lungs, bronchi (tubes inside the lungs) and trachea (windpipe).
  • Laparoscopy: Used to look inside the abdomen and obtain tissue samples.

What is a biopsy?

During a biopsy, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or fluid from the body. A pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. 

Some biopsies are performed endoscopically, others under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the radiology suite. In some cases, biopsies are performed in the operating suite. This allows your doctor to collect cells from deeper inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you will receive an anesthetic to reduce discomfort.

Compared with other diagnostic tests for cancer, biopsies often provide a more definitive diagnosis. A biopsy may help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body.

Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon and lymph nodes. Our doctors determine the most appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.

Biopsy medical animation