Mesothelioma, though a rare form of cancer arising from prolonged exposure to asbestos, it is deadly and incurable. One of the challenges doctors and healthcare providers are facing is detecting the cancer in its early stages. As of today, there are no recommended, accurate mesothelioma screening tests in people who aren’t at risk.
In people having been exposed to asbestos doctors may consider imaging tests including computed tomography scans or chest x-rays to see if there are changes in lungs indicating presence of mesothelioma. However, it is still not clear how these tests are useful in early detection of mesothelioma.1
Recent studies have indicated that people having mesothelioma tend to have increased amounts of substances like serum SMRPs, also known as soluble mesothelin-related peptides and osteopontin in their blood. Probably blood tests for such substances could in future be helpful in the early detection of mesothelioma along with monitoring of patients and how they respond to treatment.1
In most cases, patients are diagnosed of mesothelioma after they go to a doctor upon experiencing symptoms. It is important that people understand the symptoms and signs of mesothelioma and if they have been exposed to asbestos, they seek medical help.
Early Mesothelioma Detection is Extremely Difficult
Many studies on SMRPs or soluble mesothelin-related peptides have been conducted, however, their exact diagnostic accuracy is controversial. Early diagnosis of this cancer provides the best hope for a positive prognosis. That said, it is extremely difficult as of today to have early and reliable diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma with only 5 percent of individuals presenting with stage IA disease. Doctors, scientists, and researchers should look forward to having a reliable and non-invasive tool that is able to shorten the diagnostic delay.
Role of Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptides (SMRPs) In Diagnosing Mesothelioma
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) attacks the lining of the lungs and it’s a fatal tumor. The prognosis for the cancer is poor and current therapeutic options are quite limited. SMRPs, which include megakaryocyte potentiating factor (MPF) and soluble mesothelin have been seen in human serum. A lot of studies have been carried out to find out what role SMRP detections play in diagnosing malignant mesothelioma. However, their exact role hasn’t been made clear. Nonetheless, a more recent analysis that sought to evaluate the levels of serum SMRP when diagnosing2 malignant pleural mesothelioma indicated a positive test result meaning that SMRPs offer an incentive for having further diagnosis of MPM, especially in the early stages of the cancer. What is important to note here is that SMRPs have poor sensitivity something that limits the added value to an early diagnosis of MPM.
The American Cancer Society says that if you are unable to prevent cancer, then the next best thing to do is try to protect your health by detecting it early.3
- Can Malignant Mesothelioma Be Found Early? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/found-early.html
- Diagnostic values of soluble mesothelin-related peptides for malignant pleural mesothelioma: updated meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939651/
- Early Detection Is the Key to Increased Mesothelioma Life Expectancy. https://www.mesotheliomahelp.org/mesothelioma/prognosis/life-expectancy/
- Early Detection of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Asbestos-Exposed Individuals with a Noninvasive Proteomics-Based Surveillance Tool. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0046091