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Scientists Say New Blood Test Could Mean Earlier Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Could a blood test for mesothelioma be on the horizon? A new study says yes. In the case-control study in men, scientists discovered that a blood-based marker for malignant mesothelioma (MM) called calretinin was able to detect all major subtypes, except sarcomatoid MM. The study involved a total of 163 cases of pleural MM and 163 controls, plus another 36 cases and 72 controls. All controls had asbestosis and/or plaques.

Per the study, “calretinin and mesothelin were determined by ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) in serum or plasma collected prior to therapy.” Scientists “estimated the performance of both markers and tested factors potentially influencing marker concentrations like age, sample storage time, and MM subtype.” Calretinin showed similar performance in all groups.

“At a pre-defined specificity of 95%,” said the study, “the sensitivity of calretinin reached 71% and that of mesothelin 69%, when excluding sarcomatoid MM. At 97% specificity, the combination with calretinin increased the sensitivity of mesothelin from 66% to 75%. Sample storage time did not influence the results. In controls the concentrations of calretinin increased 1.87-fold (95% CI 1.10–3.20) per 10 years of age and slightly more for mesothelin (2.28, 95% CI 1.30–4.00).”

Scientists determined that the “high specificity supports a combination of calretinin with other markers. Calretinin is specific for epithelioid and biphasic MM but not the rarer sarcomatoid form. Molecular markers like calretinin and mesothelin are promising tools to improve and supplement the diagnosis of MM and warrant further validation in a prospective study.”

Though there is no cure for mesothelioma, early diagnosis offers better treatment options. Per the study, “an earlier detection with tumor markers might improve therapeutic options.” This often leads to longer-term survival.

If you have been exposed to asbestos or think that you may have, please see your doctor right away. He can refer you to a specialist who, with the assistance of traditional and/or experimental testing methods, can diagnose mesothelioma at an earlier stage or determine if you are at risk of developing the disease. 



Johnen, Georg, Katarzyna Gawrych, and Irina Raiko. "Calretinin as a Blood-based Biomarker for Mesothelioma." BMC Cancer 17.1 (2017): n. pag. BioMed Central. Web. 24 July 2017.