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A New Blood Test That Can Diagnose Mesothelioma Has Been Developed

Published: August 19, 2022

A blood test could make diagnosing mesothelioma faster, leading to doctors catching the disease earlier in patients. Mesothelioma is a hard-to-treat cancer mainly caused by asbestos. Once diagnosed, not much can be done because it has usually spread and progressed to a point where treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are not as helpful. It is hard to diagnose because mesothelioma symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses. If doctors find a way to diagnose mesothelioma more quickly and accurately, patients could receive treatments sooner, improving patient survival.

The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the lungs. It can take a long time for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure, so it is mostly found in older people. The average age of diagnosis is 74 years. When diagnosed, there is typically a poor prognosis for patients, but this depends on tumor size, staging, histological type, gender, and age. The average time after diagnosis is usually nine to 12 months. The poor prognosis is from late diagnosis, limited treatment options, and shared symptoms with other illnesses. It is crucial for patients to be diagnosed early to have a hope of an extended survival. A blood test could help doctors diagnose mesothelioma early enough that patients survive longer.

A new approach for diagnosing pleural mesothelioma has been developed, which can now distinguish between mesothelioma and other lung illnesses. The researchers developed the test by looking at blood samples rather than pleural fluid. This is useful because pleural fluid is typically a late-stage symptom of pleural mesothelioma. This would allow patients to be diagnosed early enough that there are multiple options for treatment. The test works by comparing blood samples and identifying the biological differences between mesothelioma and other illnesses.

Utilizing samples from patients with and without mesothelioma, researchers looked at the differences and determined what samples were from mesothelioma patients and what samples were from benign patients. This is great news for people with a history of asbestos exposure because these people can be tested with noninvasive procedures before symptoms develop. If they have pleural mesothelioma, it can be caught early when surgery and other treatments can be most effective, improving survival and the quality of life of patients. As long as this blood test is accurate, it will be an effective tool that will improve the lives of people diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Dilek Yonar et al., “Rapid diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma and its discrimination from lung cancer and benign exudative effusions using blood serum” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (October 2022). [Link]
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