Mesothelioma Improved Blood Test Promises Earlier Detection
A new, more reliable blood test has been developed by German scientists for earlier detection and better prognosis of Mesothelioma. Unlike the other blood tests that are invasive as well as lengthy, this simple blood test can determine cancer in early stages – at least a year before the symptoms start to appear – making malignant mesothelioma more treatable. This progress is a result of an advanced research study that analyzed a combination of mesothelin and calretinin, two proteins that are blood-based and tend to proliferate when the malignant mesothelioma tumor begins to grow.
The head of Molecular Medicine at the Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance (IPA) and lead researcher, Dr. Georg Johnen admitted that this is a highly significant breakthrough. He told The Mesothelioma Center that this new blood test might not be perfect yet, but it is a very substantial step towards treating this aggressive form of cancer. This study was published recently by the Scientific Reports.
Preventative Tool for Asbestos-Exposed Workers
This revolutionary blood test will allow workers who operate in high-risk conditions to be monitored regularly and easily. The primary cause of mesothelioma cancer is occupational exposure to asbestos. This form of cancer can have an extended latency period of several decades between the first contact and diagnosis.
The bad news is, by the time the symptoms of mesothelioma start to appear, it is already in the final stages, and all hope is lost for the patient. The common symptoms of mesothelioma are the tightness of the chest, fluid around the lungs, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. It generally takes a combination of detailed imaging tests and invasive tissue biopsies to accurately identify the presence of mesothelioma tumor. The pathologist conducting these tests must be experienced and familiar with this rare cancer to detect it effectively.
The life expectancy of patients diagnosed with this cancer (in their final stages) is usually as short as 6 to 18 months. But now, thanks to the introduction of the new blood test, earlier detection of this cancer is possible. This means the survival rate of patients can be increased if the cancer is diagnosed while it is still in the potentially curative stage. According to Dr. Georg Johnen, there are still more scientific evaluations required to establish the complete accuracy of this new blood test. But there is no doubt that it will help in the early detection of the disease. And when it comes to such rare cancer, early detection means saved lives.
Early Detection is Key to Successful Treatment
Surgery offers the chance for long-term survival in patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. Unfortunately, less than 25% of patients qualify for the surgical procedure at present. The majority of the patients only receive radiation and palliative chemotherapy treatment. However, this new blood test is much more effective in detecting biomarkers like mesothelin and calretinin because it uses a different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Until now, on average, a patient would test positive for this cancer (with a blood test) less than nine months before the determination of a clinical diagnosis. The samples would be collected at least 44 months before the presence of mesothelioma was confirmed. But all this is now set to change with the new blood test.
Watch YouTube Video: How to Recognize Mesothelioma Symptoms. If you believe you have been exposed to mesothelioma, this video explains how to recognize the symptoms.
The Research Behind the New Blood Test
A German social organization for asbestos workers started a surveillance program approximately 10 years ago in coordination with the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. This blood test study is the recent culmination of that decade long program. A total of nearly 2800 healthy participants were chosen from all over Germany for the purpose of this study. These participants provided blood samples every year in a molecular-marking program. Out of the participants, 34 high-risk workers developed malignant mesothelioma in due course.
The researchers found the mesothelin and calretinin sensitivity to be 46%, i.e., almost half of the mesothelioma cases were accurately detected within fifteen months of the diagnosis. Also, they found the specificity rating to be a solid 98% which means that only 2% of patients that reached the predetermined mesothelin and calretinin levels were false positives for this cancer.
It is notable that this is the first study that has used the combination of mesothelin and calretinin together. However, in the earlier studies performed in Australia and Mexico, these two blood-based proteins have proven to be highly reliable biomarkers for diagnosing the mesothelioma cancer.
When the cutoff period was set at almost 9 months, the sensitivity rating increased to 50%. And when the testing was done 6 months or less before the official prognosis, the rating further increased to 56%.
Dr. Johnen also said that his team is developing a third biomarker which will significantly increase the sensitivity rating. According to him, this test accelerates the process of identifying and confirming the presence of mesothelioma much faster compared to the earlier detection tools like x-rays and breath tests.
Mesomark Test – FDA Approved
This blood test, known as Mesomark, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for monitoring purposes, but not diagnostic purposes. At this moment, there are other biomarkers in use for diagnosing mesothelioma, but none of them are as effective and reliable.
While this advanced blood test works best with only 2 cell types of cancer – epithelioid and biphasic; it did not work as well with the least common of the 3 cell types, which is known as a sarcomatoid subtype.
Each year, an estimated 1,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Germany. As Dr. Johnen said, this test may allow the doctors to notice elevated levels of biomarkers long before they develop symptoms. This will ensure early detection and effective treatment of mesothelioma.
Sacramento Mesothelioma Attorneys
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento mesothelioma lawyer. If you or your loved one has been exposed to asbestos at the workplace now or in the past, or exhibit symptoms of lung problems related to asbestos, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
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