Key to Effective Treatment
Earlier this month I met with a client in the later stages of mesothelioma. At this point, treatment options are often unable to relieve the pain and extraordinary discomfort associated with this tumor. My visit was a harsh reminder of the importance of early diagnosis of this very aggressive asbestos-related tumor that develops in the lining of the lungs. While there is no cure for this devastating disease, patients who receive treatment for mesothelioma in the early stages benefit the most. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty in diagnosing this rare tumor, many mesothelioma tumors are not discovered until the disease is in its advanced stages. But a recent medical discovery has changed this.
Early Detection Tests Identify Stage 1 and 2 Mesotheliomas
A key medical discovery has made the early detection of mesothelioma possible. Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center recently developed a test that can identify the proteins secreted by a mesothelioma tumor so that doctors can detect the disease in its earliest stages. The researchers were able to detect 15 of 19 cases of stage 1 or 2 mesothelioma using this test. According to Dr. Harvey Pass, the Director of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at NYU, the only patients who seem to benefit from mesothelioma therapy are those whose tumor is in stage 1 or 2. But only 10-15% of mesothelioma tumors are diagnosed in this initial stage when treatment can provide the greatest benefits.
Dr. Pass noted that finding a tumor earlier may reduce the extent of required treatment:
“Moreover, when found early, the magnitude of the operation necessary to reduce the burden of disease may be less, making the patient better able to cope if the disease recurs and the patient needs more aggressive therapy.”
National Cancer Institute Sponsor of Study
The National Cancer Institute was the sponsor of this study through its “Early Detection Research Network Biomarkers Discovery Lab.” The new test uses very sophisticated technology that allows scientist to find and measure even the smallest amounts of proteins secreted by the mesothelioma tumors. Last April researchers presented this study at the American Association of Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting. Tests are on-going to further refine and validate the testing and the results.
What This Means for Mesothelioma Victims
For mesothelioma patient this means an improved level of treatment that will lead to an enhanced quality of life. Until we can find a cure for this disease, discoveries such as this will help mesothelioma patients better cope with this cancer.
I continually tell my mesothelioma clients that research in this area continues daily through clinical trial and laboratory research. New advances, like this early diagnostic test, are evidence of the on-going efforts on the scientific and medical community to combat this deadly disease.
My firm and I follow the scientific and medical research regarding mesothelioma. For more news and information on Mesothelioma cancer and asbestos please visit the Mesothelioma Knowledge Center.