A new device being tested in Canada may hold out hope for future mesothelioma patients of catching mesothelioma at an earlier stage. Earlier detection of the presence of asbestos fibers could possibly improve treatment outcomes and prolong the lives of mesothelioma patients.
How an Earlier Diagnostic Tool Holds Promise for Mesothelioma Patients
For each mesothelioma patient, receiving a dreaded mesothelioma diagnosis plays a major role in the tragedy of mesothelioma. Not only because it indicates the presence of this lethal illness but because the diagnosis mostly comes too late. Decades can pass between the time of exposure to asbestos – the only known cause of mesothelioma – and the emergence of symptoms. By the time a mesothelioma diagnosis is made, it is often too late to do more than make a mesothelioma patient as comfortable as possible during the months remaining. In some cases, intensive treatment can buy more time but the rounds of chemotherapy and radiation can exact a toll on the quality of life.
Now a new method may give doctors an early way to diagnose the presence of asbestos fibers in mesothelioma.
Paul Demers, a senior scientist in prevention at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Toronto, told Canadian media sources that his team may have helped solve a key obstacle in diagnosing mesothelioma – the long latency period between exposure and the development of clear symptoms such as a persistent cough.
How the New Diagnostic Machine Works in Mesothelioma Patients
The new highly sophisticated medical instrument – nicknamed the CyTOF – allows doctors to detect asbestos earlier and with more precision, which could help lead to more effective treatment procedures for mesothelioma patients.
The CyTOF machine also holds out the promise to mesothelioma patients for less invasive surgery because of the precision with which it can find asbestos fibers in the lungs. Because the machine can analyze individual cells, it can increase the chances of more targeted treatment procedures.
Earlier detection also makes a mesothelioma patient a more likely candidate for surgery and increases the chances of better surgery recovery.
What CyTOF Means and Why It Can Help Mesothelioma Patients
CyTOF is an abbreviation for Cytometry by Time of Flight. It is a highly specialized combination of microscopic techniques called mass cytometry and mass spectrometry, specifically time-of-flight mass spectrometry. It is used to determine in great detail the properties of cells. In this approach, antibodies are tagged with detectable markers and these are used to tag components of cells.
These are then analyzed by a special time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The approach overcomes limits of previous methods that tried to accomplish this.
The data collected by mass cytometry data is recorded in tables that list what has been detected in each cell. Special computer software tools have been developed to aid in this analysis.
In addition to mesothelioma diagnosis, it is also being tested as diagnostic tool for other types of cancer and blood disease. This is good because applications to other types of diseases make it more likely that this type of equipment will be seen as something hospitals should have.
Much of the research for this cell tagging technology and instrument development occurred at the University of Toronto. It is currently being brought into commercial markets and being made available to hospitals.
The possibility of early detection of mesothelioma through this new method gives hope for mesothelioma patients. Now when a mesothelioma diagnosis is made it means the disease has progressed to a stage that makes treatment more difficult. Because there are currently no reliable early tests to determine a mesothelioma diagnosis, precious time is lost without even knowing the disease is present causing irreparable damage. A top priority to help mesothelioma patients has been to develop a way to catch mesothelioma sooner. We are hopeful that this new diagnostic tool could help mesothelioma patients once the machinery becomes more widely available.
Mesothelioma Symptoms Can Seem Like Symptoms of Other Illnesses
Pleural mesothelioma sufferers make up more than 75% of all mesothelioma patients. “Pleural” means the disease affects the lining of the lungs which are called the pleura. The ongoing irritation caused by sharp pointy asbestos particles causes inflammation in the pleura. Over time this leads to scarring which in turn leads to a thickening of the pleura. Fluid becomes trapped in the thickened pleural walls around the lungs and builds up. This prevents the lungs from being able to fully expand. Breathing can become painful and there is discomfort in the chest area.
Key pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Persistent coughing
- Pleural effusions (fluid buildup)
- Weight loss
- Body aches
- Difficulty swallowing (later stage)
These mesothelioma symptoms can be mistaken for signs of a flu or a cold. Chest x-rays are needed to check for scarring of the lining of the lungs that indicate mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Circle and the Fight Against Mesothelioma
We will remain diligent and passionate in our efforts to uncover breaking news and information from the medical community in the fight against mesothelioma. As part of that promise, we are collaborating with our friends at Cantria, a go-to resource on mesothelioma clinical trials and cancer research. For more information about MesotheliomaCircle.org or Cantria please continue to visit our website and blog as we detail these critical new developments.