A biopsy is a diagnostic test in which your doctor removes cells or tissue from your body for examination by a pathologist, a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing diseases using microscopes. Your doctor will probably order a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma or other cancer.

If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, he or she will remove a sample of tissue from your chest or abdomen for testing at a pathology lab. This biopsy tissue will then be sent to your pathologist, who will issue a pathology report with a final diagnosis.

The biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the cancer is located. If the cancer appears to be a pleural mesothelioma, your doctor may order a core needle biopsy (CNB) or a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy. He or she will use a CT machine or other imaging test such as an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to locate the abnormal tissue, and then insert a biopsy needle through the chest wall into the suspect lung tissue.

If your doctor is unable to get a large enough tissue sample through a needle biopsy, he or she may also make a surgical incision to remove tissue from the chest or abdomen. This is known as an incisional biopsy.