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Combining Cytology and Immunology for a Less Invasive Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Combining Cytology and Immunology for a Less Invasive Mesothelioma Diagnosis An invasive surgical or tissue biopsy is often required to get a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis. But a new hybrid exam might offer an alternative for mesothelioma patients. It involves the combination of cytology and immunology.

Cytology tests look at the cells in body fluids. It is the analysis of a patient’s cells under a microscope. And immunology is the study of the immune system. Together, these two areas of science provide new hope for mesothelioma patients.

The Tokyo Medical University in Japan has been looking into advanced diagnostic options. They believe that a combination of cytology and immunology methods can lead to a definitive diagnosis.

This is good news for mesothelioma patients. It will mean a quicker mesothelioma diagnosis without invasive surgery.

Understanding Mesothelioma Cells

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. It develops from cells of the mesothelium, the lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body.

Malignant mesothelioma is classified into three general types. Understanding a patient’s mesothelioma type is important. Certain treatments help certain types of mesothelioma. The three types of are epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic.

A diagnosis of the epithelioid type of pleural mesothelioma is found by surgical or tissue biopsy. But mesothelioma patients are often elderly. And invasive surgical and tissue biopsies are painful and difficult.

Updating Old Methods with New Science

If a doctor suspects cancer, a cytology test may be ordered. But using cytology exams alone to diagnose mesothelioma is a risky practice. Misdiagnosis of mesothelioma may delay proper treatment and negatively impact survival.

Clinicians mostly agree that a cytological exam alone is unreliable. The cytology features of malignant pleural mesothelioma are not always clear. This is where immunology can make cytological exams better.

A hybrid cytological and immunology exam may offer a better alternative. A cytological exam of pleural fluid is far less invasive and can be more easily performed.

Immunology plays an important role in determining epithelioid malignant mesothelioma from other tumors. Immunology enhances cytological exams by telling the clinician exactly what to look for.

Early and accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma is critical for the best outcomes. Mesothelioma does not respond to most standard cancer treatments. Early and accurate diagnosis allows doctors to start the best treatments as early as possible.


Akira, O., H. Hiroshi, M. Wakiya, Y. Ito, and W. Yoshie. “Malignant mesothelioma: Cytological features.” Open J Clin Med Images 2, no. 1 (2022): 1039. https://jclinmedimages.org/articles/OJCMI-v2-1039.pdf

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