Malignant mesothelioma is a notoriously difficult and deadly form of cancer. Providing patients with correct treatment from the outset is one of the keys to extending survival and quality of life. But distinguishing between the asbestos-related disease and other forms of cancer can be a challenge. A recent discovery by Italian scientists may solve that problem, clearing the way for quicker delivery of vital medical care.
Italian Researchers Work Towards Faster Mesothelioma Diagnosis
One of the biggest challenges of treating malignant pleural mesothelioma is the difficulty in distinguishing between it and metastatic cancer. While mesothelioma forms on the pleural membrane almost immediately, metastatic cancer can travel to the pleural membrane from a different area of the body and form secondary tumors. The two types of cancer appear similar, but each responds to different types of treatment. Knowing which is which is essential to an accurate diagnosis and effective care.
Writing in the journal Cancer Cytopathology, Italian researchers from the Infermi Hospital describe how they identified two key biomarkers – Claudin-4 and BAP1 — that are present in metastatic cancer but not in mesothelioma tumors. This discovery will help confirm an appropriate diagnosis and guide physicians as they do their critical work.
Samples of Tissue and Lung Fluid Taken from Mesothelioma Patients and Others
To confirm their theory, the Italian researchers used samples of lung fluid and tumor tissue taken from patients with pleural mesothelioma, patients with metastatic cancer, and patients with benign pleural growths. Each sample was tested for the presence of the two proteins. According to lead study author Livia Bernardi, “Claudin-4 strongly stained all metastatic carcinomas and tested completely negative in normal mesothelium, benign reactive mesothelial hyperplasia, and malignant mesothelioma.” The same was true for almost all patients tested for BAP1, making testing for both proteins an extremely accurate method of determining whether a patient’s cancer is metastatic or mesothelioma.
In their conclusion, the researchers wrote, “Double negativity was evident in all malignant mesotheliomas, and double positivity was observed in all metastatic carcinomas. This 2-hit panel is probably the best compromise for differentiating malignant mesothelioma and metastatic carcinoma on either cytology [fluid sample] or biopsy specimens.”
The faster mesothelioma is diagnosed, the faster it can be treated. For more information on state-of-the-art testing and treatment, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.