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Could blood test help identify mesothelioma risk early?

Being exposed to asbestos can be very scary, as many people are aware of the serious diseases that can be caused by breathing in asbestos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who ultimately develop an asbestos-related disease will not know about it until decades after exposure when they start showing symptoms. By then, it may be too late for treatment to be effective.

Researchers all across the world are trying to find improved ways of identifying, diagnosing and treating diseases stemming from asbestos exposure. This is largely due to the fact that there are so many people who suffer from mesothelioma and other illnesses caused by asbestos. Every advancement in this research could prove to be beneficial for victims, so it can be helpful to stay updated on mesothelioma studies.

For example, researchers in Tokyo have been conducting tests for about five years on 40,000 people who have been exposed to asbestos. Every year, researchers take blood from the subjects and analyze the sample to identify factors that may be early signs of mesothelioma.

Recent reports suggest that they have been able to find a protein that is released by cancerous cells and may be an indicator that a person has certain types of mesothelioma. The protein is called N-ERC/mesothelin and it can be detected before a person starts showing any symptoms of mesothelioma. So far, the researchers have identified 62 people in their study that are likely to be at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma, as they all have N-ERC/mesothelin levels similar to people with mesothelioma.

In fact, two of the study participants have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and researchers will continue to monitor the others who have similar N-ERC/mesothelin levels in an attempt to detect mesothelioma as quickly as possible.

As promising as this research may be, the reality is that most people who have been exposed to asbestos are not included in this type of study. They are left to find testing and treatment options on their own. However, there are many resources in place to help people in North Carolina who have been exposed to asbestos. Speaking with an attorney can be a good way to identify and access detection and treatment resources.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "Mesothelioma Blood Test May Save Lives through Earlier Diagnosis," March 28, 2014

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