From the blog

Breath Test Could Improve Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Published: February 9, 2024

A new way to diagnose mesothelioma may have been discovered. Researchers have found that the exhaled breath of patients could have the potential to be a screening tool for malignant pleural mesothelioma. The information was presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Singapore. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a hard-to-treat cancer with limited treatment options. Trying to improve the treatment of the disease, researchers are focusing on predictive markers to help identify the disease. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could be a non-invasive marker for the disease.

There were 13 patients in the study. While participating in the study, patients received a computed tomography scan before treatment and every three months after. Treatment responses were either classified as stable disease (SD) or progressive disease (PD) based on the modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. Breath and background samples were taken from the patients using multi-capillary column-ion mobility spectrometry to characterize VOCs found in exhaled breath. Lasso regression was performed to identify VOCs that could differentiate responders and nonresponders following treatment. They then trained a predictive model to predict treatment outcomes based on breath samples from previous study visits.

The study was able to predict mesothelioma with high accuracy. It successfully distinguished 89 percent of patients with SD and PD. At the baseline, the predictive model achieved the same level of accuracy in predicting treatment outcomes. An important note that researchers had was that there were no significant differences observed in patients with SD and PD, showing that the selected VOCs may be linked to disease mechanisms or linked to the tumor microenvironment versus being treatment specific. Using VOCs to distinguish mesothelioma gives a promising opportunity for the noninvasive detection and prediction of treatment outcomes in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. More studies are needed with larger populations though. Using the VOC profile of each individual could help doctors predict which patients would benefit from specific therapies, leading to improved treatment regimens for MPM.

Research like this is crucial for the treatment of hard-to-treat cancers like mesothelioma. Being able to identify mesothelioma quickly not only improves diagnosis times, it helps patients receive treatment faster, improving the chances they can live longer and more comfortable lives. More research needs to be done to help determine if the breath test is a viable option for diagnosing mesothelioma patients moving forward. If larger studies help confirm a mesothelioma breath test is valid, mesothelioma patients’ lives could be much improved.

Rob Dillard, “Analyzing Exhaled Breath May Help Detect Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” docwire news (February 5, 2024). [Link]
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