People with the lowest levels of the blood protein albumin are less likely to live beyond a year with malignant pleural mesothelioma. That is the finding of a team of Chinese researchers who say this abundant protein may offer one of the simplest ways to predict mesothelioma prognosis.
Serum albumin is a globular protein whose primary function is to carry steroids, fatty acids and thyroid hormones in the blood. It makes up about 60% of the total mass of protein in blood plasma. Researchers in the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Shandong University Hospital in China have found that serum albumin levels prior to treatment appear to have a direct bearing on the odds of surviving mesothelioma.
The study focused on 97 mesothelioma patients treated at the Shandong University Hospital between 1995 and 2013. To be included in the study, patients had to be newly diagnosed with mesothelioma and slated to receive platinum-based chemotherapy, the most common type of chemotherapy for asbestos cancer. All of the information for the study was gathered from the patients’ medical records.
The researchers found that 34 of the 97 mesothelioma patients studied (35.1%) had hypoalbuminaemia, or abnormally low albumin levels prior to treatment. But even more significantly, after they started treatment, the one-year overall survival rate for the mesothelioma patients with low albumin was just 44.1% whereas patients with normal albumin levels had a one year survival rate of 72%.
The researchers found that the odds of dying from mesothelioma decreased by 9.8% for each 1 g/l reduction in albumin level, prompting them to label albumin an “independent prognostic factor in malignant pleural mesothelioma”.
Lead investigator Dr. Zhou-Hong Yao concludes, “The pretreatment serum albumin level is a simple, inexpensive and easily measurable marker with prognostic significance in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients treated with platinum-based systemic chemotherapy.” The new article is published in a recent issue of Tumour Biology.
Yao, ZH et al, “Serum albumin as a significant prognostic factor in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma”, Tumour Biology, July 2014, Volume 35, issue 7, pp. 6839-6845