Fluid build up happens because cancer cells make the pleura or peritoneum inflamed. If mesothelioma is the cause of the fluid build up, the fluid may contain cancer cells.
Many people with pleural mesothelioma have fluid around their lungs (a pleural effusion). This can make it difficult for them to breathe.
People with peritoneal mesothelioma may have fluid in their tummy (abdominal cavity), which is called peritoneal ascites. This can can make the abdomen feel swollen, tight and uncomfortable.
How you have it
To drain the fluid off, your doctor puts a small tube (a catheter) using a needle into the chest or abdominal cavity. They attach this to a tube with a bag at the end of it. The fluid drains through the tube into the bag. A sample of the fluid is sent to a laboratory for testing to see if it contains cancer cells.
If fluid is drained from your chest, it is called thoracocentesis or pleural aspiration.
If you are having fluid removed from your tummy (abdomen), it is called an abdoparacentesis or peritoneal aspiration. Draining the fluid may be done at the same time as a thoracoscopy or laparoscopy.
After the test
A sample of the fluid is sent to a laboratory for testing. This is to see if it contains cancer cells.
If the sample does not contain cancer cells you might need to have fluid drainage again.
Getting your results
You should get your results within 1 or 2 weeks. The doctor may be able to let you know if they have seen any abnormal areas that have been sent to the laboratory.
Waiting for results can make you anxious. Ask your doctor or nurse how long it will take to get them.
Contact the doctor who arranged the test if you haven’t heard anything after a couple of weeks.
You might have contact details for a specialist nurse and you can contact them for information if you need to. It can help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.