The ability to pinpoint mesothelioma may soon become more accurate, thanks to groundbreaking new research. If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis confirming that you in fact have this fierce disease, you may wonder why a detailed precise mesothelioma prognosis matters.
Why an Accurate Mesothelioma Diagnosis Matters
A more accurate mesothelioma prognosis matters because it can provide your doctor and oncology team with more detailed information about your specific case. This can help them, based on the detailed technical information about your mesothelioma, develop the best possible treatment plan for you.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer, that like all cancers, destroys the body’s healthy cells. But because mesothelioma attacks the cells in delicate thin tissue lining the body’s vital organs, it can be challenging to reach.
Imagine that a house had termites deep within the joists and support beams under the floor. But the precise location of the termites and the level of damage was not easy to pinpoint. If a new tool became available to help technicians know this information, it would make treatment of the situation much better and possibly help alleviate more damage to the home.
Optimizing your health and well-being are important to us. That’s why we’re excited about this new scientific development that may improve the accuracy of mesothelioma prognosis for pleural malignant mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Prognosis Data on Nearly 600 Patients Analyzed
The new mesothelioma prognosis study from Sichuan University and published in the medical journal Oncotarget is what is known as a meta-analysis. That means that instead of getting a group of volunteers and testing something on them, the scientists decide that at present, enough of that kind of research work has already been done. The challenge they undertake is to gather up all the studies on a particular area of research – in this case mesothelioma prognosis – that have been completed and published. Then they create a detailed statistical model to analyze all the available data. Once this is done, conclusions can emerge from the data.
Because of the large numbers of subjects involved in the total group of studies analyzed and the careful scrutiny of all the gathered data, the information gleaned from meta-analysis studies, can often be considered to be very solid. The conclusions of a well done meta-analysis study are likely to carry more weight than any single study for this reason.
Although mesothelioma is a lethal illness for which improved treatments and outcomes is an unquestionable research priority, because mesothelioma affects far fewer people than for example, breast cancer or prostate cancer, it can be challenging for researchers to come up with enough volunteers for one study. This can slow down the progress of mesothelioma research because a large number of people need to be tested before doctors are able to move forward and use a new mesothelioma treatment, or in this case mesothelioma prognosis tool in their practice.
So, it is very significant that this new study on mesothelioma prognosis was a meta-analysis that compiled data from eight separate studies. These encompassed data on 579 mesothelioma patients.
“Collectively, the result of this meta-analysis was robust and statistically reliable,” state Dr. Long Tian, of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, and colleagues in their published paper. They further state, “To our best knowledge, this meta-analysis is the first study to evaluate the prognostic value of soluble mesothelin.”
A Protein Comes into Focus as a Mesothelioma Prognosis Tool
The new mesothelioma prognosis meta-analysis study highlights the use of a specific protein as a key indicator for pinpointing the stage a case of mesothelioma has reached.
The protein is called soluble mesothelin-related protein. Scientists refer to it by its initials SMRP. It is currently used for mesothelioma diagnosis. When SMRP is found in a blood test, it is a reliable indicator that mesothelial cells in the lining of the lungs have been injured by the presence of the malignant pleural mesothelioma process.
As a standard lab test, SMRP is currently used not only to diagnose mesothelioma but also to determine how well current treatments a patient is receiving are working.
Now the new meta-analysis study done in China finds that SMRP also can serve as a mesothelioma prognosis tool.
They report finding that higher levels of SMRP are an indication that pleural mesothelioma has reached a more advanced stage. This information can be critical in helping to map out the most effective treatment plans.
Mesothelin Mechanisms Related to Mesothelioma Prognosis Still Need to be Studied
Although the scientists determined that the presence of mesothelin can be a reliable tool for mesothelioma prognosis, they suggest that the mechanism behind how this works is not as well understood yet. They highlight this as a possible area for further study. They observe that more and more studies have shown that soluble mesothelin level is closely associated with malignant pleural mesothelioma progression, disease status and tumor growth.
Additionally, the scientists report that mesothelin contributes to further understanding of the biology of malignant pleural mesothelioma because “… it participates in cell adherence, cell proliferation and tumor invasion of malignant pleural mesothelioma.”
Interestingly, because of these activities, the scientists raise the question of whether mesothelin itself should become a target for new immunotherapy drugs. They report that recent studies have indicated that anti-mesothelin drugs have been well tolerated by patients and have shown significant anti-tumor activity in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. They supposedly work best in combination with standard chemotherapy drugs for treating mesothelioma.
The researchers in this study also express interest in further exploration of mesothelin gene silencing drugs because they could have an anti-tumor effect on cells over-producing mesothelin. They hope to see mesothelin considered as a key molecular target for gene-based targeted therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma in future research.
Mesothelioma Prognosis Improves with Additional Information
For the most accurate mesothelioma prognosis possible, every doctor would agree that it is best to have all the available information that can be gathered. Some types of indicators for cancer detected in the blood of patients can also signify the presence of other types of cancers. The presence of mesothelin however is specific to malignant pleural mesothelioma. While other types of imaging tests will still be needed to help confirm a definite mesothelioma prognosis and staging level of the disease, it is important that using mesothelin’s presence as a tool has been validated by this new meta-analysis study.