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New tests may aid in early detection of mesothelioma

July 6th, 2011

U.S. researchers have discovered significant biological differences, or biomarkers, that distinguished blood samples of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is most commonly detected at an advanced stage, leaving the possibility of a cure minimal. Detection of mesothelioma at an earlier stage would allow patients to receive treatment sooner, which may improve survival and quality of life.

Mesothelioma is a fairly rare cancer that attacks the mesothelial linings that surround and protect the lungs, heart and abdominal organs. Mesothelioma has been known to have a latency period for up to 50 years, and is considered to be a very aggressive and invasive cancer causing most patients to die within about a year after diagnosis. There is still no known cure for mesothelioma, which kills an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people worldwide each year.

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, most commonly in the workplace or on the clothes of a family member. Data from the National Cancer Institute suggest that the number of mesothelioma cases has been steadily increasing since 1979. In the United States alone an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually.

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