A study conducted by researchers from China is the first to use a new method to analyze blood samples of people with mesothelioma.
A Promising Step Forward
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the body’s internal organs. Pleural mesothelioma grows in the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma grows in the abdomen. This cancer is caused by exposure to a toxic material called asbestos.
Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because they are experiencing symptoms. These symptoms depend on the type of mesothelioma and could include pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. There are approximately 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States every year. Because it is so rare, we do not know very much about the disease, and it can be hard to reach a diagnosis.
A doctor will usually diagnose someone with mesothelioma after running a few different tests on them. First, a doctor will do a physical exam and ask about a patient’s history of exposure to mesothelioma. Then they might move on to imaging scans to look inside the patient’s body for signs of cancer. Finally, the doctor will remove fluid or tissue for testing to make the final diagnosis of mesothelioma.
The Future of Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The process to reach a diagnosis can take a long time and involve invasive procedures. Researchers have been experimenting with blood tests to diagnose mesothelioma for many years. A reliable blood test would be easy, non-invasive, and could detect mesothelioma much earlier.
A blood test looks for biomarkers, which are specific molecules could identify mesothelioma in a patient. The researchers in this study tested whether GC-MS was good enough to find mesothelioma biomarkers in blood samples.
They used GC-MS to analyze the blood samples of people with malignant mesothelioma and healthy individuals. They compared the levels of different substances in the blood and looked at how they were related to the disease.
The researchers identified five substances in the blood that could potentially be used as biomarkers, which are signs that can indicate the presence of a disease.
This is the first study if its kind and the findings can help in the development of blood tests to diagnose the disease. However, more research is needed with a larger number of people to confirm these results.
Wang D, Zhu J, Li N, et al. GC-MS-based untargeted metabolic profiling of malignant mesothelioma plasma. PeerJ. 2023;11:e15302. Published 2023 May 18. doi:10.7717/peerj.15302. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10200095/