Researchers Say Lung Fluid Accumulation is Oft-Missed Red Flag for Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is an insidious form of cancer that remains hidden in the body for decades. Seemingly healthy individuals are suddenly stricken with coughing, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and loss of appetite, and these symptoms are often mistaken for more common illnesses. This delays both diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Now researchers from Sweden are indicating that diagnosis could come much earlier if lung fluid was analyzed in patients experiencing its accumulation. This could lead to longer survival.

Tissue Biopsy Often Occurs Late in Mesothelioma Diagnosis Process

Malignant mesothelioma is extremely rare, and unless a patient has a known exposure to asbestos physicians are unlikely to think of it when symptoms first appear. A study published by pathologists from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm points to a simple test that can speed the diagnostic process, and which they suggest should be done quickly in response to repeated lung fluid accumulation.

Mesothelioma shares symptoms with many other illnesses. An accumulation of fluid around one lung is common, and the pathologists call this repeated buildup of fluid a “red flag” that does not provide a definitive diagnosis, but which may set physicians on the right diagnostic path. This fluid can be removed and analyzed for biomarkers long before tissue biopsies or other tests that require more advanced disease, and by being done early in a patient’s presentation it could allow appropriate treatment to be started much sooner.

Earlier Diagnosis and Treatment May Lead to Longer Mesothelioma Survival

Though malignant mesothelioma is always considered fatal, the earlier it is detected, diagnosed and treated, the more effective chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and other treatment protocols can be. Writing in Translational Lung Cancer Research, Dr. Anders Hjerpe and his colleagues said, “Early detection of malignant mesothelioma by integrating cytology and molecular approaches has high sensitivity and positive predictive value and has a major impact on patient survival. Thus, a conclusive positive malignant mesothelioma cytology should lead to treatment without delay.”

Whether you have a known exposure to asbestos or you’ve already been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you need support and information. The Patient Advocates at can answer all of your questions and make sure that you have the resources you need. Call us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

Learn More About And Contact Terri
Get Help Contacting
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
24/7 Live Chat
Online Now