Now when a mesothelioma diagnosis is made it means the disease has progressed to a stage that makes its presence both unmistakable and incurable. Because there are no reliable early tests to determine a mesothelioma diagnosis, precious time is lost without even knowing the disease is there causing irreparable damage. Clearly a top priority for mesothelioma research science is to develop a way to nip mesothelioma in the bud and treat it before it reaches the stage where a mesothelioma diagnosis means terminal.
Recently scientists in Japan made the quest for early mesothelioma diagnosis a step closer to reality. The tragic fact that asbestos exposure knows no borders offers the silver lining that medical scientists all over the world are working on this challenge. With the international reach of scientific literature reporting new research findings, progress made in one country benefits everyone.
This new research from Japan is worth noting for three reasons:
- The study is large-scale involving 40,000 construction workers exposed to asbestos
- The same group of researchers has worked together on this since 2007. There is a lot to be said for continuity, especially in scientific research.
- The new results they just reported indicate solid progress in early mesothelioma diagnosis.
In 2008, this group of Tokyo-based researchers discovered a protein that when found in the bloodstream signals the presence of mesothelioma. In their newest study, just published in Molecular and Clinical Oncology, the same group did a massive test on the accuracy of this biomarker as a warning tool for monitoring people at high mesothelioma risk.
The new study was part of a large-scale, 5-year screening program, which started in 2007, and collected yearly blood samples from 40,000 construction workers at risk for mesothelioma based on asbestos exposure and nearly 10, 000 people in the population with no asbestos exposure. Everyone’s blood was tested for the mesothelioma biomarker.
Based on their test results, medical history and other data, lead researcher Tomoko Hirohashi and his colleagues identified 62 construction workers at high risk for mesothelioma. Of these 62, two have already developed mesothelioma. The remaining 60 will continue to be monitored closely to see whether symptoms develop. Although it may take a while longer before the blood test can be said to be conclusive, it is important to get this right.
“The screening system reported herein currently appears to be efficient; however, we hope to provide a more credible screening system after all the analyses are completed,” the researchers state.