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New Mesothelioma Study Shows Limited Promise

New Mesothelioma Study Shows Limited Promise
New Mesothelioma Study Shows Limited Promise

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October 25, 2005
New studies show a slight hope for detecting cases of pleural mesothelioma that can then lead to aggressive early treatment for the deadly disease. Cases of pleural mesothelioma are on the rise, probably due to the latent period between asbestos exposure and cancer development. Many forms of asbestos in building materials have been phased out but most buildings and structures built before the 1970s are likely to contain the cancer-causing mineral.

The new study shows that patients who have pleural mesothelioma also had higher blood serum levels of a protein called osteopontin. The frequency of the protein is higher in pleural mesothelioma patients than in people who were exposed to asbestos but did not develop the cancer. The findings may ultimately help doctors detect the cancer earlier than before. Patients whose cancer is detected during stage I-A have a higher rate of survival.

The study, reported in the October 13, 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, cautions that detection of pleural mesothelioma is still very difficult. In addition, detection of the protein is not necessarily a significant indicator of early stage pleural mesothelioma.

The results are hopeful, however, and they show more significant results than any previous pleural mesothelioma study ever. The studys next phase will be to determine the serum osteopontin levels in other disorders for comparison before any conclusions can be reached.

Pleural mesothelioma was a very rare cancer for a long time but has seen significant and troubling increases over the past ten years. Asbestos exposure can lead to the development of the cancer and has been blamed for millions of deaths worldwide. International rates are expected to rise because many buildings have not phased asbestos out in most countries.

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