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A New Biomarker Could Help Doctors Diagnose Mesothelioma

Published: November 17, 2023

A new biomarker has been found for the diagnosis of mesothelioma by scientists in Japan. Information from this research could revolutionize how mesothelioma is diagnosed and treated in the future. Mesothelioma is a hard cancer to diagnose because it shares symptoms with other cancers. Cancers it can look like include squamous cell lung carcinoma and solid lung adenocarcinoma. Doctors need immunohistochemical markers to help them give the proper diagnosis to patients. Researchers looked at different biomarkers that could help doctors diagnose mesothelioma. Different cancers were studied including mesothelioma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. A lot of work led them to a candidate called SPARC.

SPARC is an acronym for secreted protein acidic and cysteine rich.  Testing revealed that around 93 percent of mesothelioma cells had SPARC present. It was barely found in other types of lung cancer. It was only in five percent of solid lung adenocarcinoma cells and in fewer squamous cell carcinoma cells. Researchers found that SPARC was very helpful at distinguishing mesothelioma from other cancers. Tests found SPARC to be 95 percent accurate for determining lung cancers apart from mesothelioma. SPARC could soon be used to determine if someone has mesothelioma or another cancer. People could then start receiving life lengthening treatment as soon as possible.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane that covers different organs of the body including the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. The main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos, a group of minerals made up of microscopic fibers that are easily inhaled when disturbed. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in human tissue, leading to inflammation and DNA changes in cells. This leads to mesothelium cells changing from healthy cells and turning into cancer cells over time.

People who worked with asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma is a hard cancer to treat, which is why clinical trials are so important. Without them, people with mesothelioma would not be living as long as they are today with the disease. Different advancements in medicine and technology have helped mesothelioma and other cancer patients live happier, longer lives. This research will help doctors quickly and accurately diagnose mesothelioma. This will allow patients to receive life improving treatment as early as possible.

Tetsuya Nakagiri et al., “SPARC Is a Novel Positive Immunohistochemical Marker of Epithelioid Mesothelioma to Differentiate It From Lung Adenocarcinoma and/or Squamous Cell Carcinoma” American Journal of Surgical Pathology (Ocober 30, 2023). [Link]
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