Blood Tests and Biomarkers

The use of blood tests and biomarkers is leading to improved accuracy in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma


Written by Jenna Campagna, RN


Fact Checked


How Are Blood Tests Used for Mesothelioma?

Blood tests are medical procedures to test a patient’s blood for abnormalities, such as high levels of potentially cancerous proteins. Doctors use blood tests to detect mesothelioma. They look for biomarkers as indicators of irregularities.

The most reliable biomarkers used for mesothelioma blood tests are:

  • Soluble mesothelin related peptides (SMRPs)
  • Cancer Antigen 125 (CA125)
  • Fibulin-3
  • Osteopontin

Why to Use Blood Tests for Mesothelioma

The process for a mesothelioma diagnosis often requires multiple imaging tests and finishes with a biopsy. Blood tests are not accurate in diagnosing mesothelioma, but many doctors still rely on them for numerous reasons, such as to:

  • Gain more evidence that the patient has mesothelioma
  • Learn more about the disease, such as prognosis and survival odds
  • Determine if the disease is responding as intended to mesothelioma treatment

Promising Blood Tests and Biomarkers

Blood tests look for certain biomarkers, usually an amino acid chain or protein, that have elevated levels in people with mesothelioma compared to healthy individuals. Some experts refer to these proteins as mesothelioma biomarkers.

While there are a variety of mesothelioma blood tests and associated biomarkers, these four have shown the greatest reliability.

SMRPs (Mesomark test)

Mesomark is an FDA-approved test measuring the amount of SMRPs (a compound of amino acids) in a patient’s blood. Patients with mesothelioma usually have a higher amount of SMRPs in their bloodstream:

  • A study showed that pleural mesothelioma patients have a 52% increase in SMRP levels.
  • Another study revealed an 84% accuracy rate in discovering high SMRP levels in people with mesothelioma.

Doctors perform the Mesomark test following diagnosis, too. They rely on this test to analyze SMRP levels after chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy sessions. If the SMRP levels don’t decrease, then the treatment is not working.


CA125, a glycoprotein biomarker, is often overly present in malignant mesothelioma. Antigens usually provide an immune response by activating the production of antibodies. In patients with ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, CA125 is found in higher concentrations.

One study found a relationship between CA125 levels, chemotherapy and overall survival. Researchers noticed a trend in improved survival when CA125 levels decreased after chemotherapy.


Fibulin-3, an extracellular glycoprotein, is involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and movement. In one study of 465 malignant pleural mesothelioma cases, Fibulin-3 levels were higher 62% of the time.

Dr. Harvey Pass is at the forefront of this research for this possible early-detection protein. Dr. Pass and his team found that fibulin-3 levels had a 96.7% reliability in detecting pleural mesothelioma.


Osteopontin, a naturally occuring glycoprotein, manages immune response and cell movement. Mesothelioma doctors examine the plasma levels in osteopontin.

In a study of 360 malignant pleural mesothelioma cases, osteopontin was a reliable biomarker in around 65%. This sensitivity is not high enough on its own, but plasma osteopontin levels combined with other mesothelioma biomarkers could be reliable.

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Get an Accurate Diagnosis

Mesothelioma blood tests and biomarkers could lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses in the future. This medical evolution could lead to more mesothelioma survivors and more remissions, as this cancer is easier to treat in its earlier stages.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed, or have had questionable imaging tests, a blood test could provide peace of mind. It could also lead you to a life-saving treatment protocol.

Find a mesothelioma specialist with our free Doctor Match program. With a credible specialist, patients will have access to blood tests, biomarker stats and other modern diagnostic tools.

Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.