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Biomarkers for Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Prognosis

Identifying mesothelioma biomarkers may be the key to diagnosing the asbestos cancer earlier and determining the most effective mesothelioma treatments.

Biomarkers are biological signposts found in tissue, blood, lung fluid, etc., that clinicians can use to guide them in treating mesothelioma patients and predicting mesothelioma outcomes.

In a recent article in the journal Future Oncology, a team of Italian researchers review some of the most important new and emerging biomarkers for mesothelioma and how they could potentially help patients who are battling the disease. 

Mesothelioma Biomarkers for Diagnosis

According to Paolo Vigneri with the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Catania, a protein called mesothelin remains the primary biomarker for diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Although healthy mesothelial cells also express mesothelin, the protein is overexpressed in several cancers include mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Recently, mesothelioma diagnosis has been found to be even more precise when mesothelin is considered in combination with a particular type of microRNA.

Mesothelioma Biomarkers for Prognosis

Mesothelioma prognosis refers to how well a mesothelioma patient is likely to respond to treatment and what kind of an outcome he or she can expect.

Several biomarkers have been found to aid in determining mesothelioma prognosis.

Among these prognostic biomarkers for mesothelioma are the ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes in the blood (a measure of how well the immune system is functioning), c-MET expression (associated with blood vessel formation for the tumor), ki-67 ratios (associated with cancer cell proliferation), and levels of a protein called fibulin-3.

Beyond Biomarkers – Other Ways to Determine Mesothelioma Prognosis

Biological markers are not the only way to determine mesothelioma prognosis. Another method doctors use to predict mesothelioma outcomes is PET scanning using fluorodeoxyglucose, a nuclear imaging process also known as FDG-PET.

Finally, because mesothelioma survival often hinges on a mesothelioma patient’s response to chemotherapy, a test to predict this response by measuring thymidylate synthase protein cutoffs may be another way to determine mesothelioma prognosis.


Vigneri, P, et al “Biomarkers and prognostic factors for malignant pleural mesothelioma”, November 2015, Future Oncology, pp. 29-33

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