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Researchers describe potential test for early stages of mesothelioma

We naturally like to look for a cause and effect when dealing with most things in our life. If we touch a hot pan, we feel pain and can see a red spot on our skin where we burned ourselves on the pan. Diseases like cancer can be a problem, because some cancers have long incubation periods, disconnecting the cause from the effect.

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that operates in this disturbing fashion. A person may be exposed to asbestos fibers years earlier, working in a shipyard, with electrical materials or handling plumbing or heating systems. They may appear healthy for many years, but then they begin to notice a cough, or perhaps they find themselves short of breath. They may ignore it, thinking it a cold or that they are not in as good shape physically as they once were.

Finally, they visit a doctor, and after tests, the find they have mesothelioma, and may only have months to live. Researchers at NYU School of Medicine published the results of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that may give mesothelioma victims more hope.

The research shows promise of a potential early detection test for mesothelioma. The discovery of a protein product of a gene, which according to the lead researcher, "is present in levels four to five times higher in the plasma of patients with mesothelioma compared to levels in asbestos-exposed patients or patients with several other conditions that cause tumors in the chest."

The researchers will be working to develop a diagnostic test base on this protein.

Source: NYU Langone Medical Center, "High Levels of Blood-Based Protein Specific to Mesothelioma," October 10, 2012

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