Oxford, England – In a breakthrough study, scientists at Oxford University in England have developed a new test for the detection and diagnosis of the cancer mesothelioma.
The Oxford scientists’ new test provides a way to test for high levels of a certain protein in the fluids produced by the mesothelium, the membrane of the body organs where mesothelioma first develops; higher levels of the protein are a sign of mesothelioma. The test can be done even before any cancer cells are present, and can better predict the patient’s chances of developing the deadly cancer. The test is much less invasive and produces better results than other testing procedures.
Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to the once-popular asbestos material, is often left undiagnosed and untreated for decades. The cancer can take years to develop, and doctors may overlook its symptoms during that time.
Though mesothelioma has been diagnosed and studied for nearly 30 years, doctors and medical professionals are still at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the cancer and how it develops. Lengthy testing procedures seem to be outdated and often give inaccurate results, resulting in further suffering for victims and more time for the disease to grow and spread. Due to these challenges, the mortality rate among mesothelioma victims is very high.
“This study suggests a way for clinicians to more readily identify cases of mesothelioma from the start,” said Dr. Helen Davies, who participated in the research. “An earlier diagnosis also allows speedier interventions to relieve symptoms as well as initiation of other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy if appropriate.”
Currently, mesothelioma patients are given approximately 12 to 24 months to live following initial diagnosis. Life expectancy depends on how far the cancer has already progressed. Due to its latency period and lengthy diagnosing procedures, many patients are already in the latest stages of the cancer, giving them a short amount of time to live. With this new test, patients may be able to expect longer life expectancies, or even early enough detection to eradicate the cancer completely.