Breath Test May Be Promising Early Mesothelioma Diagnostic Tool

asbestos fibers

Malignant pleural mesothelioma, called MPM, is a fatal cancer of the lining or pleura around the lungs caused by asbestos exposure. It can take decades for the cancer to develop after asbestos exposure, but by the time it becomes symptomatic and is diagnosed, pleural mesothelioma is so advanced that survival time is usually short.

Mesothelioma Breath Test?

Belgian researchers published the results of their recent study of whether a breath test could potentially be developed that could diagnose MPM much sooner. Earlier diagnosis would allow aggressive treatment to begin at an earlier stage of the disease, which may improve treatment success and length of survival after diagnosis.

The scientists’ answer to the question is a resounding yes. After reviewing historical research about how MPM is diagnosed (imaging and biopsy) as well as research about whether there are reliable biomarkers that could be used in diagnosis, they concluded that the development of a breath test that could diagnose MPM at earlier stages is “very promising.”

Breath Biomarkers for MPM

Biomarkers are substances in the body that indicate the presence of something else in the body such as a disease. The researchers feel that biomarkers in blood or given off in fluid from the pleura have not been shown to be reliable enough for early diagnosis.

By contrast, they conclude that “exhaled breath contains valuable information on cell and tissue metabolism” and that early research into the reliability and presence of breath biomarkers of MPM is “promising.”

We will continue to report here about future advances in this important research that could potentially improve the survival rate of MPM.