Mesothelioma is an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. It is often diagnosed in the advanced stages because the symptoms are similar to those of common respiratory conditions.
A new study has reported the success of a blood test with the ability to diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma earlier than ever before.
There are fewer than 3,000 mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year with malignant pleural mesothelioma making up almost 80% of them. Patients are often diagnosed after their cancer has entered advanced stages, leading to poor prognosis.
Diagnosing mesothelioma is difficult due to the long latency period of symptoms associated with this cancer. Mesothelioma can go undetected for up to 70 years because mesothelioma symptoms emerge gradually. Symptoms often include chest or stomach pain, painful breathing, persistent cough, weight loss and decreased appetite. These symptoms are also related to common illnesses and sometimes written off as a cold.
Difficulties in Diagnosing Mesothelioma
As mesothelioma is so rare, patients often receive a misdiagnosis of a common respiratory infection or lung cancer, which also leads to a poor prognosis for mesothelioma. Once mesothelioma is finally diagnosed, the cancer has often spread to other organs and cannot be contained.
Because mesothelioma is so rare, with fewer than 3,000 diagnoses each year, doctors have difficulties diagnosing any type of mesothelioma. This cancer also spreads rapidly. By the time the patient starts experiencing severe symptoms and is seen by a doctor, tumors have already spread to the lungs and sometimes other organs.
Doctors often assume tumors on or near the lungs are lung cancer, leading to a misdiagnosis and a delay of the patient’s treatment. This strategy is dangerous because mesothelioma patients need specialized care and treatment, but they often receive a generic treatment before they are properly diagnosed.
Another issue in diagnosing mesothelioma is the difficulty in differentiating malignant pleural mesothelioma from lung cancer. When conducting mesothelioma pathology tests, doctors look for mesothelioma biomarkers, or diseased mesothelial cells. The issue in identifying these biomarkers is that diseased mesothelial cells can also be present in other cancers.
Diagnosing Mesothelioma With Advanced Blood Test Approach
The only way to diagnose mesothelioma is by conducting pathology tests on the patient. The two mesothelioma pathology tests are histology and cytology.
Histology tests tissue, while cytology tests fluid to study the cell structure, functionality and inspect for disease. Both pathology reports are crucial in receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, but they are usually performed once the patient is already in an advanced stage of mesothelioma.
A new study has discovered a method to increase the accuracy and early detection of cancer, specifically malignant pleural mesothelioma, further increasing survival. In the study, researchers used a combination of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and multivariate analysis to pull and analyze data from the patient’s blood serum.
To give some context:
- FTIR analyzes pure compounds to determine their composition. Pure compounds are made up of two or more pure elements. For example, salt is a pure compound because its chemical composition is sodium chloride (NaCl), two pure elements.
- Multivariate analysis is used to study complex sets of data resulting in different outcomes dependent upon what the data sets are exposed to.
- Blood serum is the clear liquid part of the blood remaining after blood cells and clotting proteins have been removed.
In other words, they used FTIR to analyze the proteins left in the patient’s blood after blood cells and clotting proteins were removed. Researchers used multivariate analysis to study the results of the blood tests. This technique allows specialists to accurately and efficiently identify malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The study concluded that there are variations in lipid metabolism among lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma cells, and the cell’s RNA/DNA can be used as a biomarker for malignant pleural mesothelioma. The method of FTIR of the patient’s blood serum has proven to be a fast, cheap and non-invasive way to diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma faster than ever before.
Due to this discovery, mesothelioma patients may no longer wonder if they have the flu, common cold or some type of cancer. Patients may feel confident in their diagnosis and know they are receiving accurate treatment to enhance their prognosis. With the integration of this pathology method, mesothelioma might not be as difficult to diagnose. Patients can undergo effective and accurate testing, receiving a proper diagnosis timely.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our Registered Nurse, Karen Ritter, to answer any of your health related questions, locate a mesothelioma specialist or help get you connected with an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn about your options. You may be entitled to compensation.
Sources & Author
Rapid diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma and its discrimination from lung cancer and benign exudative effusions using blood serum. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0925443922001442?via%3Dihub. Accessed: 08/18/22.
Serum. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/serum. Accessed: 08/18/22.
Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/fourier-transform-infrared-spectroscopy. Accessed: 08/19/22.
Multivariate Analysis. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/multivariate-analysis. Accessed: 08/19/22.
Sources & Author