From the blog

Tool to Measure Asbestos Levels in Tissue has Been Created

Published: September 9, 2022

A new tool to determine levels of asbestos exposure has been developed. The tool, created by Italian researchers, is known as a Retrospective Exposure Assessment (REA). The tool uses a microscope to determine how much asbestos is in lung tissue. The study wants to compare the actual level of asbestos in lung tissue to levels of asbestos exposure someone believes he or she had. This tool could also be a great way to see if someone is more at risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer if the person believes he or she was exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other cancers. Many people don’t even realize they were exposed to asbestos until they are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease years after the initial exposure. If a patient is unsure if he or she was exposed to asbestos but worked in a field that has a high likelihood of asbestos exposure, the REA could be used to definitively show that the person was exposed to asbestos. Not only does this help the patient come to terms with a cancer diagnosis, it helps patients and their families see that their work history had a direct effect on their current health.

Asbestos is a highly carcinogenic mineral that causes mesothelioma and other cancers. It was once used for its fire and heat resistant properties.  It is made up of microscopic fibers that are easily inhaled. Once inhaled, they become lodged in human tissue including the lungs and pleura, which is the mesothelial tissue surrounding the lungs. After this happens, the body has a hard time breaking down and removing the fibers, so they remain in the tissue and cause DNA changes in cells. The DNA changes then cause regular cells to turn into cancer cells.

A tool to determine if someone was exposed to asbestos could be a great way to catch mesothelioma and lung cancer early. This would allow patients to receive treatment for their cancer as early as possible, which is when the cancers are most treatable. Mesothelioma is an especially hard to treat cancer so getting a jumpstart on treatment would allow patients to receive care that both improves quality of life and patient survival. This test could help prepare people exposed to asbestos and help them determine if regular cancer screening is a good option moving forward.

S D Visoá et al., “Reconstructing historical exposure to asbestos: the validation of ‘educated guesses’” Occupational Medicine (August 9, 2022. [Link]
Contact Us
Have you received a diagnosis? *