Biomarkers, FDG-PET Imaging Provide Better Diagnosis of Mesothelioma Symptoms

Doctors looking for a reliable way to diagnose mesothelioma symptoms may soon have two new tools to grasp for. Researchers in Denmark have identified what they believe to be four key biomarkers to distinguish mesothelioma cancer from benign conditions, while Spanish doctors have shown that a procedure known as FDG-PET can reliably diagnose and track the cancer.

Danish Biomarkers May Provide More Accurate, Earlier Diagnosis

Mesothelioma remains difficult to diagnose because mesothelioma symptoms tend to only appear after decades, and even then they are similar to common diseases. This means that so far, getting an authoritative diagnosis has required invasive surgery — which in turn usually means diagnosis is not done until almost too late.

Danish scientists aim to change this, by identifying biomarkers that could be used for earlier diagnosis.

The Danish research looked for microRNAs which would help doctors diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma and distinguish it from reactive mesothelial proliferations. MicroRNAs, or miRNAS, are small components that tend to work as master switches turning on and off protein synthesis in a cell. The absence or presence of certain miRNAs is known to predict how certain cells function.

The Danish research team screened 742 miRNAs, pinpointing four which they believed to be best suited for diagnosing pleural mesothelioma. The team then tested all four on tissue samples taken from both confirmed benign and confirmed mesothelioma cases to see whether they would in fact act as markers.

mesothelioma cancerThe four miRNAs which the Danish scientists chose were able to identify mesothelioma cancer at a 94% accuracy rate, which is significantly higher than the 80% accuracy rate recommended by the International Mesothelioma Interest Group for any prospective diagnostic test.

The researchers suggested it would be possible to increase accuracy further by combining analysis of miRNA with immunohistochemical tests of tissue samples from suspected mesothelioma. At this point, the test might be accurate enough to predict patients’ survival.

FDG-PET Shown To Be Accurate for Diagnosing and Tracking Peritoneal Mesothelioma

According to a study performed at a Barcelona hospital, the combination of positron emission tomography and the 18F-FDG radioactive tracer is an effective way of both diagnosing as well as tracking the progression of peritoneal mesothelioma.

The doctors looked at treatment records from 60 patients who had peritoneal mesothelioma, which is the less-common abdominal form of the cancer. The average age of the patients was 53; 34 of them were women and 26 were men.

All patients in the study had received 18F-FDG PET scans as a way of diagnosing or tracking their mesothelioma. 11 had been given an FDG-PET scan before treatment. For all of them, the scans showed patterns that were characteristic of mesothelioma. Four of the 11 also received a scan inside six months following treatment; the researchers reported all those scans were accurate ways of determining how the patients would respond to treatment.

However, the study also showed that FDG-PET could also be used with patients who had not received a scan prior to treatment, as a way of tracking treatment progress. Overall, FDG-PET proved to be 82% accurate when it came to detecting whether mesothelioma was present. 15 of the 60 patients had negative FDG-PET scans, and in all of those cases a second follow-up scan was able to accurately detect recurrence or absence of the disease.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. This article was written by a third party and its content reflects the views of the third party and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions or of Surviving Mesothelioma or Cancer Monthly.

Asbestos Triggers Immune Responses, Inflammation Linked To Mesothelioma Cancer

The toxic mesothelioma cancer-causing mineral asbestos has effects on the immune system which may be linked to mesothelioma, two new studies show. It may be part of the immune system’s response to asbestos exposure which helps lead to mesothelioma. Knowing this, scientists may be able to use the body’s immune responses to determine the severity of a mesothelioma case.

Asbestos Triggers Immune Responses Which Are Linked To Mesothelioma

One study out of Idaho State University in the US shows that, as well as triggering the rare and difficult to treat mesothelioma cancer, asbestos also negatively affects the body’s immune system. Despite asbestos’ well-known carcinogenic properties, the immune response to the mineral has only been the subject of study recently. Reporting in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, the researchers showed how they’d measured toxic effects produced by amphibole asbestos and its cousin, also suspected of causing mesothelioma, erionite.

Using macrophages, bone marrow derived immune system cells, to measure the effects, the researchers found both erionite and asbestos increased the body’s cytokine production. Since cytokines are measures of immune system activation, this showed both compouds increased immune activity.

The researchers also exposed lab mice to quantities of asbestos or erionite in their tracheas. Examining the blood serum of the mice seven months afterwards, the researchers found both asbestos- and erionite-exposed mice had elevated levels of key immune system-produced proteins and higher levels of anti-nuclear antibodies. Examining the kidneys of the mice showed that immune system waste products had increased from a normal 33%, see in those mice which had been treated with saline, all the way up to 90% in the mice which had been exposed to erionite.

These findings indicate that exposure to both asbestos and erionite triggers autoimmune responses, which may indicate further adverse effects in communities exposed to the minerals.

Inflammation May Predict Mesothelioma Cancer Prognosis

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One of the most common autoimmune responses is inflammation, and another study looking at the connection between mesothelioma and inflammation has found that signs of inflammation may predict the degree to which patients respond to treatment.

Researchers at Duke University’s Department of Chest Diseases looked at a sample of 155 patients, comparing the data from the time when they were diagnosed and how long they survived. For all patients in the study, the average survival time was 13.8 months.

However, considering potential factors which would predict survival, the researchers found that age (being older than 60), neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio or NLR (of 3 or more), mesothelioma type (a non-epithelial variety), and red cell distribution width or RDW (20% or higher) all predicted poor survival rates.

Further analyzing the data, they discovered that RDW was such an important prognosis indcators that patients who had RDW levels 20% or higher were 2.77 times more likely to die, while patients with NLR levels over 3 were 1.67 times more likely to die. RDW measures the variation in blood cell size in a patient’s bloodstream, while NLR may be associated with inflammation.

The authors concluded that both NLR and RDW represented significant factors predicting the prognosis of a patient with malignant mesothelioma cancer. This is important for doctors, as prognostic factors are important for planning cancer treatments.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a
substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. This article was written by a third party and its content reflects the views of the third party and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions or of Surviving Mesothelioma or Cancer Monthly.

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