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Researchers are Searching for Mesothelioma Biomarkers

Published: June 2, 2023

Mesothelioma could soon be diagnosed by blood test. Researchers in China have found a new method to analyze blood samples of people with mesothelioma. The researchers used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The hope was that the researchers would find biomarkers in the blood of mesothelioma patients that could help with diagnosis of the cancer. Mesothelioma is a hard cancer to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other cancers and conditions. The cancer is primarily found in the lining of the lungs but can also be found in the linings of the abdomen, heart, and testicles.

There are different tests that can be used to help doctors diagnose mesothelioma. Doctors can do a physical exam in addition to questioning someone about exposure to asbestos. Doctors can then do imaging scans like CT scans or MRIs to see inside the body to detect cancer. If the doctor is concerned, fluid or tissue can be removed from the patient to be analyzed. The doctor can then determine if someone has mesothelioma.

Typical mesothelioma diagnosis methods are usually very invasive and time intensive. This led to researchers trying to find a blood test for the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Blood tests are far easier and could help doctors diagnose patients earlier when the cancer is more treatable. When doctors look for biomarkers, they are looking for molecules that are present when someone has a specific type of illness, like mesothelioma. GC-MS was used by researchers to analyze the blood samples of mesothelioma patients. Different substances were compared and measured, helping the researchers analyze how they relate to someone having mesothelioma cancer. There were five substances that could possibly be used to help diagnose mesothelioma and show that it is present in an individual. This study is completely new and is a pioneer in mesothelioma diagnosis.

More research is needed to determine if biomarkers can be found in a mesothelioma patient’s blood. If researchers do find a biomarker for mesothelioma, the disease can be found earlier, allowing patients to be treated earlier. This would allow patients to live longer even though they have an aggressive cancer. This is why research for the cancer is so important. Many people do not know that they were exposed to asbestos, so they have no idea they were risking their lives while trying to make a living. If researchers find a blood test for mesothelioma, patients could be treated earlier, giving them a better chance at living longer, happier lives.

Ding Wang et al., “GC-MS-based untargeted metabolic profiling of malignant mesothelioma plasma” PeerJ (May 18, 2023). [Link]
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