Thoracoscopy is a procedure which is used to diagnose and then treat pleural diseases such as mesothelioma.
In a recently published study, the procedure has shown to provide the necessary information needed to make a mesothelioma diagnosis in around 80 percent of patients, that’s a rise of 20% in the last three decades.
The research was carried out by a group of Italian pulmonary medicine experts who said that the procedure sometimes also referred to as ‘pleuroscopy’, has steadily improved as doctors have become more adept at using it to target and diagnosed mesothelioma.
Difficulties in Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer which develops on the membrane that surrounds the lungs. It is well known for being particularly difficult to diagnose.
The reason for this is because many of its common symptoms are shared with a number of other diseases. Things like coughs, shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue are shared by a number of lung related illnesses.
The only way to accurately pinpoint and diagnose mesothelioma is by examining its cells under a microscope.
The difficulty in discovering mesothelioma can lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment which are unfortunate reasons why the outlook of mesothelioma is worse than many other cancers.
Diagnosis is made even more difficult because mesothelioma tumours are notoriously challenging to find to even take a piece of tissue to examine to begin with.
However, thoracoscopy utilises a specifically designed camera, known as a thoracoscope, to allow a surgeon inside the chest of a patient and can improve mesothelioma diagnosis because they can then actively take a piece of tumour tissue for examination.
The Italian study, which was published on 6th August 2016 in the Annals of Thoracic Medicine examined trends in the use of this procedure in those with mesothelioma or other thoracic diseases.
2,752 patients who had received a medical thoracoscopy from 1984 to 2013 at the Spedali Civili Hospital Brescia in Italy were included in the study.
Over half of the patients were diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma or another lung cancer. Among the other 50 percent, tuberculosis was the most common non-cancerous illness.
The research team concluded that the likelihood of medical thoracoscopy providing the information to accurately diagnose lung diseases like mesothelioma increased from 57 percent to nearly 80 percent over the course of the 29-year study period.
Speaking at the study’s conclusion, Dr Alberto Valsecchi said, “Medical thoracoscopy has a great diagnostic yield that can be improved by practice permitting to achieve a specific histological diagnosis in about 80 percent of patients.”
He also said that the research team had found that careful patient selection is vital in acquiring the best possible results. Patients with mesothelioma, who had pleural effusion or excessive lung fluid had a higher diagnostic yield than those without.