When it comes to diagnosing malignant mesothelioma, physicians have several tools available. Doctors rely on the information that their patients provide about their history of exposure to asbestos, as well as the symptoms that they display, and based upon that information they order imaging studies, blood tests and biopsies. While X-rays and cat scans look for signs of mesothelioma tumors, blood work looks for something much smaller — the presence of biomarkers that indicate that cancer is present. When it comes to malignant mesothelioma, there are several different biomarkers that have proven to be reliable indications that the asbestos-related disease is present.
Several mesothelioma biomarkers have been identified
There are several different biomarkers that oncologists use to confirm the presence of malignant mesothelioma, or to rule out. Some can even be used to assess the patient’s prognosis after a diagnosis has been made. Though the presence of fibula-3, osteopontin, neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio, c_MET expression and ki-67 ratios are all helpful, researchers from China have determined that the most valuable biomarker for the rare, asbestos-related disease is the presence of soluble mesothelia-related peptides, or SMRP.
SMRP is found in both pleural effusions and in blood, where it is detected through a test called MESOMARK. They are created when proteins in the membranes that surround the body’s organs are broken down by cancer. Once these chemicals are released, they can be found in the fluid that collects in mesothelioma sufferers’ lungs as a result of inflammation. The more SMRPs are found in these pleural effusions, the more advanced the cancer is likely to be throughout the patient’s body.
Chinese researchers determine that SMRPs are among the most sensitive biomarkers for mesothelioma
By analyzing the results of biomarker studies from thousands of patients, scientists from the Capital Medical University in Beijing determined that SMRPs were present in pleural effusions and used to correctly diagnosed mesothelioma in 70 percent of cases. Similarly, the absence of SMRPs was used to correctly eliminate a mesothelioma diagnosis in 90 percent of cases.
Though SMRPs are not always a reliable indicator of mesothelioma’s presence, they do provide physicians with a high-sensitivity tool to quickly diagnose the disease. If you have been diagnosed with this challenging illness and need information about where to turn for help, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.