Study Says New Test Could Pinpoint Mesothelioma Earlier, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A potential new diagnostic test, proposed by a team of cancer researchers in Sweden, could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

This method...could be a useful adjunct to the morphological diagnosis of mesothelioma.

In a report detailed on Surviving Mesothelioma, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm say they have found a way to help clinicians accurately diagnose mesothelioma using one of the earliest available diagnostic materials: pleural fluid.

Mesothelioma, a disease caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure, is notoriously difficult to diagnose and to treat. But, as with most cancers, earlier diagnosis improves a patient’s odds for survival. It is common for patients with developing mesothelioma to experience a buildup of fluid in the pleural lining that surrounds the lungs. Called pleural effusion, it is often this fluid accumulation that causes some of the earliest symptoms of the disease including persistent cough and shortness of breath.

The Swedish team tested pleural effusions from 190 consecutive patients at a regional referral center for seven different potential biomarkers, including hyaluronan, two types of the protein mesothelin, osteopontin, syndecan 1 and 2, and thioredoxin. The pleural fluid was tested using the ELISA and HPLC tests and a predictive model was generated from the outcome. To validate the results, researchers tested a second set of 375 effusion samples from patients at another institution.

The study found that two of the seven biochemical markers – hyaluronan and N-ERC/mesothelin – were the most “significantly associated with mesothelioma”. A two-step test using these two markers was found to accurately identify mesothelioma in a high percentage of cases in both the primary test group and the validation group.

The researchers say their test is especially valuable because it is not only highly accurate, but can be performed early in the diagnostic process. “This method can be performed on the first available effusion and could be a useful adjunct to the morphological diagnosis of mesothelioma,” they conclude in a published report of their findings.

Mesothelioma is one of the most universally-fatal cancers, in part because patients are often not diagnosed until the disease is in its late stages.

The original Swedish study was published in the peer-reviewed online medical journal PLoS One. (Mundt, F, et al, “hyaluronan and N-ERC/Mesothelin as Key Biomarkers in a Specific Two-Step Model to Predict Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma”, August 21, 2013, PLoS One. (

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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