Cracking the Code: SPARC, the New Mesothelioma Diagnostic Marker

Cracking the Code: SPARC, the New Mesothelioma Diagnostic Marker

Scientists from Japan have found a new mesothelioma marker called SPARC that could help doctors diagnose this rare cancer. This marker could revolutionize the diagnosis of mesothelioma and set it apart from other lung cancers.

SPARC and Early Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure and is usually diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because they are experiencing symptoms. These symptoms depend on the type of mesothelioma and may include shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain, or fatigue.

Mesothelioma can be hard to diagnose because it looks a lot like two other types of lung cancer. These are squamous cell lung carcinoma and solid lung adenocarcinoma. This is why doctors need special tools, called immunohistochemical markers, to help them make the right diagnosis.

Scientists studied different types of cancer cells to find a marker that could do this job. They looked at mesothelioma and two types of non-small cell lung cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. After a lot of careful work, they found a promising candidate called SPARC.

SPARC stands for secreted protein acidic and cysteine-rich. The tests showed that SPARC was present in a lot of the mesothelioma cells – about 93 out of every 100. But, it was hardly there in the other types of lung cancers – only about 5 out of every 100 for solid lung adenocarcinoma and even fewer for squamous cell carcinomas.

The scientists found that SPARC was very good at telling the lung cancers apart, with an accuracy of about 95%.

SPARC might be a fantastic tool to help doctors figure out if someone has mesothelioma. It can tell it apart from the other types of lung cancers with great accuracy. The sooner a doctor can correctly diagnose a person with mesothelioma, the sooner they can begin life-saving treatment.


Nakagiri T, Amatya VJ, Kushitani K, et al. SPARC Is a Novel Positive Immunohistochemical Marker of Epithelioid Mesothelioma to Differentiate It From Lung Adenocarcinoma and/or Squamous Cell Carcinoma [published online ahead of print, 2023 Oct 30]. Am J Surg Pathol. 2023;10.1097/PAS.0000000000002147. doi:10.1097/PAS.0000000000002147. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37899530/

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