New research shows progress towards the early detection of mesothelioma via biomarkers. A biomarker is a naturally occurring trait that can indicate the existence of certain conditions or illnesses in the human body. Biomarkers come in many forms such as genetics, characteristics, and molecules.
The Cancer Research Journal recently reported on a protein that is linked to the existence of mesothelioma. A protein is a type of biomarker. Discoveries in the field of mesothelioma detection are critical because the cancer is particularly hard to identify until symptoms begin to appear, anywhere from 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos products!
Mesothelioma is a unique cancer that affects the internal tissues of the lungs and abdomen. Prior to new research, a biopsy procedure was the only known method of detection. Due to the invasive nature of a biopsy, patients and doctors often opt out of the procedure until warning signs become significantly serious. Late detection means that most victims of mesothelioma only live for a year beyond prognosis.
Although there is no known treatment for mesothelioma at this time, late detection does not help doctors or researchers make much progress towards treating the illness. Early detection could create a new avenue for research and testing to treat the progressive symptoms. Given the fact that mesothelioma kills over 3,000 people a year, progress would be a huge source of hope for those who have potentially been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
The new research comes from an international team lead by the University of Hawaii. The protein HMGB1 is thought to be an indicator of the presence of malignant mesothelioma. If the protein proves to be a trusty indicator as researchers hope then the approach to detecting mesothelioma will change.
Currently the American Cancer Society advises patients that the only way to detect this disease is to monitor for symptoms associated with the cancer. Many symptoms are problematically also associated with other illnesses and thus the symptoms could act as traumatic false alarms for concerned individuals. At any rate, if symptoms are suspected to be serious, patients undergo a long testing process that can include different types of x-rays, blood tests, and physical exams all culminating in the biopsy.
Even when a biopsy is performed, diagnosis is not guaranteed. Cells are removed and inspected under a microscope. At this stage mesothelioma can look deceptively similar to other types of cancer, further complicating the detection process.
The finding of the protein comes on the heels of similar announcements at the European Lung Cancer Conference in April 2012. At that gathering, researchers from Australia announced results of a study that showed possible mesothelioma detection based on a small molecule in the blood stream. Study results identified a series of molecules that were four times more prevalent in blood samples of those with malignant mesothelioma than those without.
In addition to working on mesothelioma detection, the European researchers also made contributions towards treatment. Findings suggest that high dose radiation can be safe under some circumstances to effectively treat the cancer. Other research is also being conducted about a new drug that may help to subdue symptoms and extend the lifespan of those diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Developments in the mesothelioma field are important because it is currently one of the most prevalent work-related diseases. If you or someone you know is suffering from mesothelioma that was possibly contracted as an occupational hazard it is important to contact an experienced asbestos attorney. The process of compiling a mesothelioma legal claim for relief is complex but a mesothelioma attorney can help you easily navigate the steps to recovery.