Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma forms on the thin layer of tissue covering the internal organs (called the mesothelium), most commonly on the lining of the lungs and chest wall. There is no cure for mesothelioma, and the current five-year survival rate following diagnosis is approximately 8 percent in the United States. Treatment options have been limited, but significant advances in detection were made in 2016. Given that an early diagnosis is the single best way to improve a patient’s diagnosis, these advances are positive news.
The first new method of detection is a type of blood test using exomes, which are microscopic substances that can be used to detect cancer. Previously, exomes have been used to detect prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancer. Building on the processes used for those tests, scientists have been able to use exomes to detect the presence of mesothelioma in the body. While this new method of detection does not establish the stage to which the cancer has progressed, the development of a new positive/negative test is a major advancement.
Another new detection method developed in 2016 comes in the form of a breath test. As noted above, the most commonly diagnosed form of mesothelioma involves the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. In current testing, this new breath test was able to distinguish between individuals who had pleural mesothelioma and those who did not with nearly 90 percent accuracy.
A third new method involves the use of a specific type of protein, known as high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1). Using this protein, researchers were able to distinguish between:
• those who had mesothelioma,
• those who had been exposed to asbestos but had not yet developed mesothelioma, and
• those who had no asbestos exposure.
This test has a very high sensitivity rate, making it especially promising to those working in high risk fields.
If you would like more information about these cases, you can contact Grant Cofer, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Mesothelioma+Asbestos Awareness Center
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