A biomarker in lung fluid may hold the key to early diagnosis of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, often mimics other respiratory conditions and is difficult to diagnose. However, a research team from Italy has found that testing for the biomarker soluble mesothelin related peptide (SMRP), which is produced when proteins in the membranes surrounding the lungs, heart, and abdomen break down, could be a reliable method of assessing the progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
There have been conflicting theories circulating regarding the use of different biomarkers in diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma. A study published in 2012 showed that levels of fibulin-3 (FBLN3), an extracellular matrix protein present in the membranes surrounding blood vessels, could help distinguish between mesothelioma and other pleural effusions. Since 2012, however, it has been revealed that FLBN3 levels were too similar in pleural effusions from multiple conditions in order to effectively distinguish mesothelioma from other diseases.
Comparing Biomarkers Yielded Interesting Results
Italian researchers from the regional health service in La Spezia compared the effectiveness of SMRP and FBLN3 in distinguishing mesothelioma from other conditions that cause pleural effusions, or the build-up of fluid around the lungs. They measured biomarker levels in 120 patients; 33 were suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma; 23 had other forms of cancer that metastasized to the pleura; and 64 had tumors on their pleura that were benign. While FBLN3 levels were relatively consistent throughout the group, SMRP levels were significantly higher in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The results are promising, as SMRP could help to streamline the process of diagnosing mesothelioma. The current process for diagnosing mesothelioma has multiple steps, including thorough physical exams and imaging studies, and the gathering of detailed history regarding the patient’s asbestos exposure. If SMRP can conclusively diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma, patients may be able to obtain treatment faster and improve their outcomes.
FBLN3 did not prove to be effective as a diagnostic tool but showed promise as a prognostic tool, which may be helpful for physicians developing treatment plans for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. There are a number of biomarkers used in this fashion, including c-MET expression, which indicates the formation of blood vessels for the mesothelioma tumor; the ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes in the blood, which can show a deficiency in the immune system; and ki-67 ratios, which can be used to track the proliferation of cancer cells.
Early diagnosis can make a huge difference for patients suffering from mesothelioma. Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma often have limited treatment options, as the disease is resistant to many common cancer treatment methods. This devastating cancer can lie dormant in the body for decades after the initial asbestos exposure, and by the time symptoms present and are accurately diagnosed, for many it is too late.
South Jersey Asbestos Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, call the South Jersey mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. Our knowledgeable, dedicated lawyers will prepare a sound legal strategy to recover the compensation you are entitled to for your asbestos exposure. With offices conveniently located in Pennsauken and Philadelphia, we help mesothelioma patients and their families throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online to speak to an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.