Scientists may have found key to early mesothelioma diagnosis

Danish scientists recently announced findings that may lead to an early and definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma. No such test currently exists and, sometimes, mesothelioma victims must wait for doctors to definitively identify their cancer before aggressive therapy can be started. The tests could provide a significant benefit for anyone in North Carolina who has been exposed to asbestos fibers and may have contracted mesothelioma.

The new findings involve the identification of four “biomarkers” that distinguish mesothelioma from other types of cancer and from healthy lung tissue. The researchers identified four microRNAs that serve as switches for protein synthesis inside mesothelioma cells. In other research, the presence of particular miRNAs has proved to be an accurate predictor of how the cells will function.

The scientists conducting the research tested the effect of the four miRNAs on tissue where the presence or absence of mesothelioma had been confirmed by other means. The researchers found that their tests had an overall accuracy of 94 percent in predicting the presence of mesothelioma, whereas the International Mesothelioma Interest Group recommends that any diagnostic test have an accuracy of 80 percent.

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer that begins in the pleural lining of the lungs. The disease is very rare except for people who have been exposed to asbestos fibers. Early mesothelioma symptoms are vague, and no definitive diagnostic test for the disease exists. Thus, victims often are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed to a point where surgery is not feasible.

Persons who have been exposed to asbestos and who fear they may be suffering from mesothelioma should immediately consult a physician with experience in diagnosing and treating the disease. Such persons should also contact an attorney knowledgeable about asbestos claims to see if they have a viable claim for damages against the manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products to which they were exposed.

Source:, “New Biomarkers Could Mean Earlier, More Accurate Mesothelioma Diagnosis,” June 23, 2014