Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer that is diagnosed in approximately 3,500 people per year. The majority of patients are diagnosed with the pleural type of the disease, which affects the lungs. To provide patients with the most effective treatment, doctors need to identify their mesothelioma subtype, and that analysis has traditionally required time and expertise. A group of researchers in the United Kingdom is developing a breath test to allow patients’ exhalations to be used, thus allowing the procedure to be done more easily and quickly.
Each Mesothelioma Subtype Responds Differently to Treatment
The complexities of treating malignant mesothelioma are notable. Because the disease is almost always diagnosed when it is in an advanced stage, doctors start treatment protocols in “catch-up” mode. To make matters more challenging, each subtype of mesothelioma responds differently to different treatments, so once a patient’s diagnosis has been confirmed, further testing is required in order to tailor the treatment to their needs. The breath test being developed by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University promises greater efficiency.
Whether physicians are dealing with malignant mesothelioma or other illnesses, volatile organic compounds can be used as key indicators of disease. They are components that can be detected in a way that is non-invasive, quick, and inexpensive, without need for blood draws or biopsies. The analysis of the exhaled breath is done without a microscope, using what is known as a headspace analyzer that separates and measures the compounds found in breath for analysis.
Preliminary Results of Breath Test for Mesothelioma Subtype are Promising
In a study of the breath test’s use, the researchers worked with biphasic, epithelioid and non-malignant mesothelial cells. Study author Liam David Little writes that the test revealed different levels of different compounds between the subtypes, revealing a distinct VOC profile that can be used in the future to quickly identify the appropriate treatment for patients. In the study’s conclusion he indicated, “Current results further highlight the potential for a diagnostic mesothelioma breath test as well as providing proof of concept for the differentiation between biphasic and epithelioid mesothelioma based on VOC profiles.”
Mesothelioma patients require highly specialized treatment. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this rare disease and you need more information or access to resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.