Protein Biomarker Research May Allow for More Precise Mesothelioma Diagnoses

A new study indicates that the use of protein biomarkers in tests may make it easier for doctors to make a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Over the past several years, multiple studies have indicated that examining certain proteins in patients' blood can help doctors learn essential information when attempting to diagnose patients with mesothelioma. These protein biomarkers may even help doctors develop more effective treatments and provide more precise information about patient prognosis.

The most recent study, conducted by researchers in the Czech Republic, found that measuring serum mesothelin can provide a great deal of information about the severity of mesothelioma in patients who have already been diagnosed. Patients with several different forms of cancer have been found to have more of this protein in their bloodstreams than those who do not have cancer.

For almost two decades, Czech researchers tracked the health of 239 workers who had been exposed to asbestos. They found that patients whose X-rays exhibited anomalies typically had higher levels of serum mesothelin than those whose X-rays were clear. Patients who were found to have mesothelioma had even higher levels of the protein in their blood than patients who were found to have benign growths in their lungs.

In approximately three-fourths of cases in the study, doctors were able to use protein measurements to accurately diagnose patients with mesothelioma. In just over 90 percent of cases, doctors were able to use protein measurements to determine that patients did not have the disease.

The Czech researchers determined that the use of serum mesothelin measurements was most useful as a diagnostic tool for patients whose mesothelioma had progressed for some time. Unfortunately, it did not appear that the results were reliable when attempting to discover the disease at an early stage. If nothing else, what this test provides is an additional factor for doctors to consider when deciding whether to follow up with patients who may have mesothelioma.

Other researchers, including a team in China and another team in eastern Europe, have also conducted studies regarding the use of protein markers in mesothelioma diagnoses. Their respective studies have examined whether measuring osteopontin or fibrinogen could be of use. Each one of these tests has shown promise as an easy, non-invasive means of diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma.

While greater research is needed to refine the tests used to measure protein biomarkers in potential mesothelioma patients, many are optimistic that they may prove to play an essential role in treating the disease in the future.

Those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma should remember that they have legal rights. Schedule a meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more.

Keywords: Mesothelioma