Can a Blood Test Diagnose Mesothelioma?

If you’ve ever wondered if there is a blood test for asbestos exposure or cancer, there could be soon. Researchers work every day to make better advancements in blood-test biomarkers. Doctors are able to find evidence of mesothelioma through blood tests. However, mesothelioma cancer requires a series of tests for an accurate diagnosis. There are various types of blood tests, called MESOMARK assay, N-ERC/Mesothelin, and Fibulin-3. These tests may help doctors find and diagnose mesothelioma earlier.

What Is a Blood Test For Mesothelioma?

A blood test for mesothelioma can detect biomarkers, which are molecules produced by cancer cells. The American Cancer Society warns that these blood tests cannot diagnose mesothelioma but may prompt doctors to perform additional tests to confirm it. Presently, blood tests are used in combination with other diagnostic tools, including imaging scans and biopsies.

Mesothelioma is rare and often diagnosed in later stages when symptoms typically occur. Some researchers believe using blood tests for mesothelioma detection successfully leads to a diagnosis prior to the onset of symptoms. Patients with mesothelioma tend to have higher blood levels of certain biomarkers, making these types of tests a promising diagnostic tool.

Patients with a history of asbestos exposure should report any symptoms to their doctor, as many doctors don’t automatically suspect mesothelioma. The presence of the proteins associated with mesothelioma and a known history of asbestos exposure may prompt further exams.

Can a Blood Test Diagnose Pleural Mesothelioma?

There is currently no approved biomarker used to screen for mesothelioma. More research is needed before it can be used to screen for mesothelioma. While these biomarker blood tests are promising, more tests are needed before they can be widely used to accurately diagnose mesothelioma.

Three different blood tests for mesothelioma can detect biomarkers: MESOMARK assay, N-ERC/Mesothelin, and Fibulin-3. Each blood test for mesothelioma shows if the substances produced by cancer cells are present. Depending on the results, doctors may order additional tests before making a diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma will prompt doctors to perform a physical exam. After a physical exam, imaging scans are ordered, which are read by a radiologist. After the radiologist detects a tumor in an X-ray or CT scan, a doctor will order a biopsy.

A biopsy procedure involves the removal of tissue or parts of a tumor to examine if cancer is present. If the lab finds malignant cells in biopsy tissue, a pathologist can determine if the patient has mesothelioma and, if so, the cell type.

Mesothelioma Biomarkers 

MESOMARK assay

A MESOMARK assay test measures the amount of serum-measured soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) in the patient’s blood. High levels of SMRP may indicate the presence of mesothelioma. SMRP cannot be detected in certain types of mesothelioma cells, so doctors use MESOMARK in combination with other tests.

>Doctors collect a blood sample before sending it to the lab for analysis. While in the lab, technicians add antibodies to the blood, allowing it to bind to SMRP proteins. Doctors measure the SMRP levels based on how much of the antibodies bind to cancer cells.

Doctors may use the MESOMARK test to track treatment response. If SMRP levels appear to decline from levels at initial diagnosis, the treatment is working. The biomarker tests are also used with other malignant diseases, including pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer.

N-ERC/Mesothelin

The N-ERC/Mesothelin test detects mesothelin, a protein referred to as MSLN. After collecting blood test samples, lab technicians use a certain enzyme to find malignant mesothelioma cells. Although mesothelin is produced by other types of cancer cells, the N-ERC/Mesothelin test is significantly effective in detecting mesothelioma.

FIbulin-3

Malignant mesothelioma also produces a protein called fibulin-3. Doctors can detect the protein in pleural fluid and blood. More research is needed to use the Fibulin-3 blood test for diagnosing mesothelioma. However, early studies at mesothelioma medical centers have found it to be relatively promising. 

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