Could a simple blood test detect the presence of mesothelioma earlier than other methods, prevent a delay in treatment and prolong a patient’s life?

Diagnosing mesothelioma as early as possible has always been a crucial factor in resolving a claim for mesothelioma compensation. In many cases, there is often less than six months to try and ensure victims and their families can be awarded financial help with medical care assistance and ensure their long term security.

Mesothelioma increase in the UK

Despite just one per cent of those men or women who have been exposed to asbestos will eventually develop the fatal and incurable cancer of the lung linings, the number of mesothelioma cases has risen in the UK by almost four-fold in the last thirty years. According to latest available figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in June 2014, the number of mesothelioma fatalities has increased in the UK by nearly 11 per cent, from 2,291 deaths in 2011 to 2,535 in 2012.

While there have been many breakthroughs in scientific understanding of how mesothelioma cancer behaves and the impact of treatment upon individual patients, only modest gains have been achieved in trying to extend survival rate beyond a few weeks and improving patient care in the time remaining. Once the tumour cells have reached an advanced stage and spread to adjacent tissues or distant organs, life expectancy is around 4 to 18 months, at best.

Finding out why some fall victim to mesothelioma

Medical research teams around the world are continuing their long search to find a cure for mesothelioma. But vital to their work is to try and discover why certain individuals who were exposed to asbestos will not develop asbestosis symptoms while countless thousands of others fall victim to the deadly disease.

Latest research carried out in Australia has discovered a small protein molecule more commonly present in the blood of mesothelioma sufferers than those without the disease. The specific protein appears to serve an important role in causing uncontrolled cell division and the growth of cancerous tumours. Previous research into the presence of protein molecules as a ‘marker’ for mesothelioma have proven unreliable for routine use by doctors in a confirmed diagnosis of the disease.

More than 80 per cent accuracy

During the current investigation, a study group of five patients with pleural mesothelioma and three healthy patients were found to possess specific protein types in sufficient amounts, but which appeared at significantly different levels when comparing the blood of healthy patients to mesothelioma patients. One particular protein type was found to be four times higher in the blood of mesothelioma patients.

When researchers then took blood samples from 23 patients, including 15 patients with mesothelioma and measured the levels of the specific protein, the blood tests were able to predict those patients who had mesothelioma with more than 80 per cent accuracy.

Following the promising early results, the medical research team say the next step is to test the reliability of the marker further by conducting  studies with a larger number of patients. They hope that the results will lead to the development of a diagnostic test which can be used in routine examinations by doctors for early mesothelioma detection.

More appropriate asbestosis treatments at an earlier stage

Importantly, the simplicity of a non-invasive procedure would also be vital for many patients and could mean that more appropriate asbestosis treatments could be given at an earlier stage.

In recent years, asbestos awareness campaigns have significantly helped many former industrial workers to recognise that they may have been exposed to asbestos at one or more workplaces at any time during their working lives.

Whenever a chronic cough persists, shortness of breath or chest pains are experienced, it is always vital to also seek asbestos advice and see a GP who should arrange for a thorough medical examination.