DNA methylation could be used to diagnose mesothelioma earlier for better treatment outcomes.
This is the finding of a study from a team of researchers from Belgium. The researchers analyzed 63 studies that looked at DNA methylation in mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because they are experiencing symptoms. These symptoms depend on the type of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma in the lungs may cause shortness of breath, pain in chest, and fluid retention. Peritoneal mesothelioma in the abdomen can cause abdominal pain, fatigue, and ascites.
A Difficult Diagnosis
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is difficult. It often looks like other diseases that are more common. It also takes 30 to 50 years for symptoms to develop after asbestos exposure. This means mesothelioma has a lot of time to grow and become harder to treat.
One potential way to improve the diagnosis of mesothelioma is to look at people’s genes. A process called DNA methylation changes the way certain genes are expressed in the body. This also changes the way the genes look when they are analyzed by a doctor.
Different types of cancer will look different genetically depending on how they have been changed by DNA methylation. This is called their “methylation profile”. So, doctors might be able to identify mesothelioma based on its methylation profile by looking at the DNA in cancerous cells.
The researchers were able to identify eight genes that had methylation profiles that could point to a mesothelioma diagnosis. Three genes in particular had significant profiles that could be useful for a diagnosis: APC, miR34b/c, and WIF1.
More research is needed to learn more about how to use DNA methylation profiles to diagnose mesothelioma. The earlier this disease can be diagnosed, the sooner life-saving treatment can begin.
Vandenhoeck J, van Meerbeeck JP, Fransen E, et al. DNA Methylation as a Diagnostic Biomarker for Malignant Mesothelioma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Thorac Oncol. 2021;16(9):1461-1478. doi:10.1016/j.jtho.2021.05.015. https://www.jto.org/article/S1556-0864(21)02186-9/fulltext#secsectitle0100