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Why Genetic Testing for Mesothelioma Patients Is Now Essential

Why Genetic Testing for Mesothelioma Patients Is Now Essential

A new study published in JAMA Network Open recommends that doctors should run genetic tests on their mesothelioma patients to make sure they get the right care.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin.

Mesothelioma is a serious type of cancer that mainly affects the lungs and abdomen. People with this cancer usually don’t live very long, around 18 months on average. The place where the cancer is found can affect how long someone lives.  People with mesothelioma in the abdomen might live a bit longer than those with it in the lungs.

The main cause of mesothelioma is being exposed to asbestos. There is also a chance that some people have changes in their genes that make them more likely to get this cancer. These changes are usually passed down from family members and can increase the risk of other cancers, too.

Doctors do not usually test everyone’s genes for this problem, but it might be a good idea, especially for those with a family history of cancers. Some changes in specific genes, like the BAP1 gene, are common in mesothelioma patients. Knowing about these gene changes can help doctors make better treatment choices and offer advice to families.

Researchers are now using a special test that looks at the genes of cancer cells. This test can also accidentally find these gene changes that run in families. This study looked at a big group of mesothelioma patients who had both their cancer and normal genes tested. They wanted to see how often this special test could find these gene changes.

The researchers in this study looked at data from 161 mesothelioma patients who had their tumors tested along with their normal genes. They found that 78% of patients had genetic changes that could be important, and 16% had changes that were confirmed to be important. These changes could cause a risk for certain types of cancer.

Based on these findings, the study researchers are encouraging universal genetic testing for patients with mesothelioma. The results of this type of testing could lead to better care decisions and stronger outlooks for patients with this type of cancer.


Mitchell OD, Gilliam K, Del Gaudio D, et al. Germline Variants Incidentally Detected via Tumor-Only Genomic Profiling of Patients With Mesothelioma. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(8):e2327351. Published 2023 Aug 1. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.27351. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10413174/

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