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Important Australian Study Shows Promise

A study that was recently conducted by researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia is showing great promise for more accuracy in predicting the survival rate of those suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an always fatal form of cancer that can attack various organ linings throughout the body, and peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Biological Markers examined the presence of a glycoprotein referred to as MUC1, and has linked an abundance of the biomarker to a shorter survival rate.

MUC1 is a protein that has been identified as instrumental in protecting against infection in healthy patients. Previous research has shown that it binds to pathogens in the bloodstream, thus preventing them from entering healthy cells.  It has been shown that MUC1 is a valuable biomarker, as it has been shown to be present in higher-than-normal concentrations in many forms of cancer, and its presence has been noted as a positive indication that mesothelioma is present, but the new study is the first to link its levels to how swiftly a specific form of mesothelioma will progress and what the patient’s survival or outcome is likely to be.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the cells that line organs including the lungs, the cavity of the heart and the abdominal cavity. This lining allows organs to expand and contract properly and to rest next to one another without interference. Cancer forms in these mesotheliomal cells after being exposed to asbestos, a toxic substance that was widely used in manufacturing and insulation in the United States and around the world. Mesothelioma is difficult to treat because it does not present with symptoms until the disease has already advanced to late stages.

Though the fact that MUC1 had already been established as a biomarker for mesothelioma, the results of the study are likely to prove helpful to physicians in determining exactly what treatment protocol is most appropriate for patients who have been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. Because higher levels are indicative of a poorer outcome, some patients and their treatment team may choose to pursue the most aggressive treatments, while others may opt in the other direction, choosing not to pursue extreme or painful treatments and instead pursuing palliative treatments such as hospice care so that they can minimize time in the hospital and instead spend time with family.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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