Although researchers and medical professionals have known of mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses for many decades now, there is still a great deal that is not known about the disease. For example, diagnosing mesothelioma remains a complicated and difficult task that is made more challenging by the long length of time that generally passes between asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis.
That may soon change, however, with the discovery of a blood test that may make it possible to make an earlier mesothelioma diagnosis. In a new study, researchers have identified a protein in blood plasma that may indicate whether a person has mesothelioma or whether he or she has been exposed to asbestos and is at a greater risk of contracting the disease.
In the study, researchers conducted blood tests on 92 people with mesothelioma, as well as 136 people who had been exposed to asbestos but did not have a related disease, in 93 people who had non-asbestos-related fluid in their lungs and 43 healthy people. The researchers were looking to see whether the tests revealed the existence of the protein fibulin-3.
Ultimately, they found that fibulin-3 levels were much higher in the people who had mesothelioma.
However, more research is needed before the discovery can truly be touted as the next great breakthrough in mesothelioma treatment and put into place in hospitals nationwide. One oncologist says that, if anything, the tests indicate when people are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, potentially increasing the likelihood that they will be diagnosed through traditional methods earlier, and therefore gain earlier access to treatment.
We will continue to update our mesothelioma blog with any new developments on this test.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Blood Test May Spot Rare Lung Cancer,” Serena Gordon, Oct. 10, 2012