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Usually, you begin by seeing your family doctor (GP) who will examine you and may arrange for you to have some blood tests or x-rays. They may refer you to hospital for further tests and for specialist advice and treatment.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE|) has produced guidelines for GPs on the referral of patients with suspected cancer. These recommend urgent referral for a chest x-ray for people with a history of asbestos exposure with any of the following symptoms:
At the hospital, the doctor will take your medical history and carry out a physical examination.
You may be asked questions about any possible exposure to asbestos in your past, such as during jobs you’ve had or at places you’ve worked. This is called your occupational history. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of the details at first. You can let your doctor know later about anything you remember.
Pleural mesothelioma often starts as a lot of tiny lumps (nodules) in the pleura, which may not show up on scans or x-rays until they are quite large. You may need a number of different tests to diagnose mesothelioma.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2010
Next planned review: 2013
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If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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