Study May Point Way to Earlier Mesothelioma Diagnosis, Prevention
Turkish researchers indicate that they may have found a way to predict who is most likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma following asbestos exposure.
According to a study published in The Scientific World Journal earlier this year, the way a body responds to the stress of being exposed to asbestos appears to be linked to the later diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer, a deadly and rare form of cancer that is only known to occur among individuals who breathed asbestos fibers years or even decades earlier.
If confirmed, some scientists hope that the data will help lead the way to predicting who is at greatest risk of mesothelioma and potentially help with earlier diagnosis or even prevention.
Currently, mesothelioma is usually not detected until in its late stages, when the victim often only has months to live. There is no known cure for the lung disease, and it often results in death within months following diagnosis.
“Asbestos causes pulmonary fibrosis, pleural diseases, and malignancies. However, the pathogenesis of asbestos-related diseases has not been clearly shown,” wrote the researchers rom the Dicle University School of Medicine in Turkey. “Recent studies indicate that increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) caused by asbestos plays an important role in this pathogenesis.”
Researchers used several methods of measuring oxidative stress in test subjects who were exposed to asbestos. They looked at 80 people who had been exposed to asbestos but had not been diagnosed with any disease, 46 subjects who have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and 50 control subjects who had no asbestos exposure.
They found that those with mesothelioma had higher total oxidant levels and higher levels of oxidative stress. Those who had been exposed to asbestos but had not developed mesothelioma had lower levels, but still higher than levels in the control group with no known asbestos exposure.
Researchers also indicate that higher levels of copper were found among those with mesothelioma, which some previous studies have predicted, as well as higher levels of a number of other factors that could lead to a way to predict who will develop mesothelioma in the future.
Asbestos Is Only Known Cause of Mesothelioma
Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Although the substances has been banned for more than 30 years, new cases of the deadly disease continue to surface given the long latency period between exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases of malignant mesothelioma are just now peaking, since there is a long latency period of 20 to 40 years between exposure an diagnosis.
Over the past few decades, mesothelioma lawsuits has become the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
In addition to cases for individuals directly exposed, in recent years there have been a growing number of second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuits brought on behalf of family members were exposed to fibers carried home on clothing or in the hair of individuals working with the material. Cases have been brought by individuals who were exposed as young children or babies when their parents would hold them after returning home from work with asbestos.
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