New findings regarding the treatment and diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma were presented at the 3rd European Lung Cancer Conference in Geneva. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of tumor associated with asbestos exposure.
Currently, the diagnosis is set by analyzing the patient’s symptoms, imaging investigations, but it is only confirmed by pleural biopsy and histopathology. Patients go to the doctor due to dyspnea caused by pleural effusion or chest pain. In order to confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the patient must be the subject of a biopsy. Histopathological examination can determine the type of mesothelioma (epithelial, most commonly, sarcomas and mixed). However the result is sometimes ambiguous. Tumor markers found in the bloodstream are currently able to aid the diagnosis of mesothelioma (serum proteins related with mezotelina or osteopontin). However, sometimes the results are not clear and the diagnosis is much delayed making life expectancy drop even more. So researchers focused on finding more rapid diagnostic methods.
Researchers tried to find a quick test, specific and sensitive in order to detect mesothelioma. The researchers analyzed small molecules called microRNAs in blood samples from patients with mesothelioma and healthy patients. They found that in the blood of patients with mesothelioma, the level of a particular type of microRNAs named miR-625-3p was 4 times higher than normal. Although the test accuracy is about 82%, Dr. Kirschner said that in order to microRNA to become a routine test, further studies must be conducted to confirm this accuracy. If results are still promising, this test could play a key role in the early detection of mesothelioma.
Furthermore, studies on biomarkers of mesothelioma have also been made by Swiss, Italian and U.S. researchers. They reported the discovery of peptides found in serum of patients with mesothelioma. However, this discovery is still under research. Also, Australian Researchers believe that high-dose radiotherapy in patients with mesothelioma has a good response rate. The study conducted between 2003 and 2011 on 45 patients with stage III-IV mesothelioma, showed that the average survival period was about 12 months. “Many believe mesothelioma to be radioresistant and toxicity that is prohibitive if high doses is given with the long affected in situ,” said Dr Feigen from Austin Health Radiation Oncology Center in Melbourne.
Another finding reported by British researchers is that sorafenib is well tolerated in patients with mesothelioma. Sorafenib is an inhibitor of protein tyrosine kinases Several (VEGFR and PDGFR) and Raf kinases. Since the discovery, there were reported more side effects like rash, hypertension, diarrhea and others. However, it seems to be well tolerated in patients with mesothelioma.