A mesothelioma blood test could make it possible to stretch the time between CT scans to monitor treatment progress.
That is the conclusion from a team of cancer experts in Italy. The researchers compared the results of the SMRP mesothelioma blood test to CT scans and other prognostic indicators in pleural mesothelioma patients.
Doctors typically use a set of criteria called mRECIST to assess how well a particular therapy is working. mRECIST includes measurements from CT scans. But CT scans are expensive, time-consuming, and expose patients to ionizing radiation.
The goal of the new study was to see how closely SMRP levels correlated with mRECIST results. The team says the blood test appears to be accurate enough that it could potentially replace some of the regular CT scans.
The SMRP Mesothelioma Blood Test
SMRP stands for soluble mesothelin-related peptides. They are breakdown products from proteins in the pleural membrane around the lungs. This membrane is where pleural mesothelioma tumors form.
The Mesomark test measures SMRP. It is the only FDA-approved biomarker for diagnosing pleural mesothelioma. But it is not complete enough to diagnose pleural mesothelioma by itself. Doctors usually combine a mesothelioma blood test with imaging studies, exams, lung fluid samples and biopsies to make a final mesothelioma diagnosis.
By plugging information about the cancer into the mRECIST, criteria, doctors can assess changes in mesothelioma tumor burden over time. mRECIST takes into account the number, size, and location of lesions, as well as the levels of different biomarkers.
Comparing mRECIST and SMRP Levels
To evaluate the value of the SMRP mesothelioma blood test, the Italian team looked at 183 test results and mRECIST scores from 58 pleural mesothelioma patients. When they looked at the results they were “blinded”. This means, they did not know which patients were which. This allowed them to objectively compare the blood tests and other criteria.
“There was a statistically significant correlation between SMRP and mRECIST score in the 2 cohorts considered both separately and jointly,” writes lead author Federica Grosso.
Dr. Grosso and her team say the mesothelioma blood test might offer a way to monitor pleural mesothelioma with fewer CT scans. This would cut down on both radiation and inconvenience.
“These results, although exploratory, suggest the SMRP measurement might be considered as an adjunct to monitor PM patients in order to delay CT scans time interval,” they write.
This could make treatment monitoring easier and safe for pleural mesothelioma patients and simpler for their doctors. The Italian team concludes that the idea warrants further investigation.
Early and accurate mesothelioma diagnosis is key to long-term survival. Anyone with mesothelioma symptoms – especially if they have a history of asbestos exposure – should seek medical attention.
Grosso, F, et al, “Pilot Study to Evaluate Serum Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptide (SMRP) as Marker for Clinical Monitoring of Pleural Mesothelioma (PM): Correlation with Modified RECIST Score”, October 29, Diagnostics, Volume 11, Issue 11, https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4418/11/11/2015