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Lymph Nodes Present Prognostic Role for Mesothelioma Patients

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Lymph Nodes Present Prognostic Role for Mesothelioma Patients

The 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer was held recently and one significant finding that was shared in the meeting was related to mesothelioma. Researchers from University of Pennsylvania (School of Medicine) have been able to show that lymph nodes, previously overlooked, have important role in terms of predicting the stage and a route of therapeutic intervention against Mesothelioma.

The lymph nodes reported in the study are of a special kind and are categorized as posterior intercostal lymph nodes. Now how do these lymph nodes appear in cancer detection?

Lymph nodes and mesothelioma

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In previous oncology related work, lymph nodes have been an important site for finding metastatic cells. By looking at cancer cells found within the nodes, physicians and researchers can find the stage of the cancer and design an optimal treatment mode accordingly.

Now, as per previous research, malignant pleural mesothelioma has been a tricky disease in terms of prognosis. It has been reported that the diseases have a poor prognosis rate and a majority of patients are diagnosed at late stage. As a result of this, effective remedies cannot be established and the survival time is largely reduced.

This study also uses posterior intercostal lymph nodes, located near the spine, in cancer staging. 

Impact

While being an important disease in the domain of oncology, malignant mesothelioma has been a topic of discussion in connection with asbestos exposure. And for a great amount of time, mesothelioma has been stated as an occupational cancer.

This study would serve as a good piece of evidence in a lawsuit for mesothelioma. In the past, it has sometimes proven difficult for legal counsel to establish the link between the disease and the source of exposure. With an effective staging methodology, the plaintiff can pursue an effective case.

Secondly, prognostic markers are a heavily advancing field especially with the insight given to physicians by molecular markers. Now that the nodes have been found to have these cells, protein expression profiles can be used for generating commercial scale biomarkers like we have currently for breast cancer (BRCA 1 and 2 gene marker).

Model of the study

The model of the study used by the researchers at University of Pennsylvania is a retrospective one. The patients used in the study were undergoing a pleurectomy as a treatment for mesothelioma.

The pleural membrane lining the lungs was found to have metastatic cancer cells in the lymph nodes. An important inference was made during the study: patients who don’t have metastatic cells in lymph nodes were reported to have a higher survival rate.

This means that the posterior intercostal lymph nodes are specifically metastasized in the case of malignant mesothelioma. As a treatment model, physicians can biopsy the nodes and become part of surgery based therapeutic intervention.

Patients who suffer from cancers such as malignant mesothelioma are at a legal disadvantage because their initial symptoms are nonspecific complaints. This has a negative impact on the compensation they can receive from responsible parties, if exposure had been proven. This detection model provides hope in such cases.