Mesothelioma, also known as asbestos cancer, is an aggressive type of cancer involving the lining of the chest and abdomen, or the mesothelium. The mesothelium protects the lungs, heart and other vital organs. About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually in the United States, and approximately 10,000 Americans die from this disease and other asbestos-related illnesses every year. Early detection of mesothelioma can greatly improve a patient’s prognosis, yet diagnosis often occurs in the advanced stages.
In April 2011, at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers shared a promising new biomarker test for detecting early-stage pleural mesothelioma. In cases of pleural mesothelioma, the disease starts in the chest cavity. According to the American Cancer Society, pleural mesothelioma accounts for about three-fourths of all mesothelioma cases.
The biomarker test detects proteins secreted from asbestos-triggered tumors. In a blinded test sponsored by the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network Biomarker Discovery Lab, the biomarker test was able to detect 15 of 19 cases of Stage 1 or Stage 2 malignant pleural mesothelioma, making it about 80 percent accurate. Moreover, its specificity was 100 percent, meaning there were no false positives. During this study, researchers used the SomaLogic Inc. aptamer proteomics platform to examine 170 blood samples from 90 patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and 80 participants with known asbestos exposure.
According to researcher Harvey I. Pass, M.D., director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYU Cancer Institute in New York, “The only patients that seem to benefit from therapy in mesothelioma are those that are found in stage 1, and this is only 10 to 15 percent of patients.” By enabling doctors to detect the disease earlier, this new biomarker test could improve the survival rate and quality of life for mesothelioma patients worldwide.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, asbestos exposure causes most cases of mesothelioma. An asbestos attorney helps mesothelioma victims fight to get the compensation they need and deserve. If a negligent employer or landlord exposed you to asbestos, an experienced asbestos lawyer can help. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease should contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney today. A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can help you understand your legal rights.