One of the biggest challenges facing doctors who treat mesothelioma is that accurate diagnosis of the disease can be difficult. The rare form of cancer shares biological traits with many other illnesses, but only responds to certain treatments. Getting the diagnosis wrong can delay any hopes for extended survival or of improving quality of life. In the quest to identify reliable testing, a group of scientists from the United Kingdom have found a tumor suppressor protein that they believe will help improve diagnostic accuracy and provide helpful information regarding individual patient prognoses.
P16 Protein Test Aids in Mesothelioma Diagnosis
According to mesothelioma researchers at Wythenshawe Hospital at Manchester University in the United Kingdom, there is a protein encoded by the CDKN2A gene that is missing in many people with mesothelioma. Known as the p16 protein, it slows protein-making in cells that are replicating. When p16 is not present, cancer cells can divide and spread more quickly. Its absence has already been linked to poor survival outcomes in patients with melanoma and cervical cancer.
The researchers believe that in patients with malignant mesothelioma, the absence of p16 allows mutated DNA to replicate quickly and grow into the disease’s deadly tumors. To test their theory, they tested 216 patients with malignant mesothelioma to determine whether p16 was present in their cell samples.
Study Proves Value of P16 Testing in Mesothelioma Patients
Their study found that 60% of patients diagnosed were missing the P16 protein, and that those patients had significantly shorter survival time than those in whom the protein was present. They also found that the deletion of the protein only existed in samples of patients with mesothelioma, making p16 testing an important tool for diagnostic accuracy.
Writing of their results, lead author Kelly Marshall said, “In this study, 60% of mesotheliomas harbour a homozygous deletion of CDKN2A and can be accurately, reliably and efficiently identified by p16 FISH testing. This test can be embedded within routine practice in mesothelioma pathways to enhance diagnostic accuracy.”
If you or someone you love has been exposed to exposure, accurate diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is an important step in the treatment journey. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.