A tissue biopsy and imaging tests are the most common ways to detect and diagnose Mesothelioma, but blood tests can also help doctors be able to identify this disease. The Mesothelioma blood test is able to detect specific biomarkers that are present in a person’s blood that only occur when the disease is present. There are three biomarkers that can be detected: SMRP, MPF, and osteopontin. SMRP sensitivity is the most reliable, measured at 73%.
Mesothelioma, however, cannot be diagnosed on blood tests alone. Because they have limited value, many medical providers have stopped ordering it in favor of fluid and tissue samples. When testing is inconclusive and someone is exhibiting the signs or symptoms of Mesothelioma, it may be ordered to determine if further testing should continue.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which develops within the protective lining of the body which covers most internal organs. Although it may occur naturally, it is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. When fluid builds up between the chest wall and the lungs and this causes a shortness of breath, then this disease may be suspected. It can also cause pain within the chest wall and cause unexpected weight loss.
Because this disease can be so severe, finding methods of early detection are critical for patient survival. That’s why the Mesothelioma blood test may be administered by some doctors. If the biomarkers are detected early on before late stage spreading occurs, survival chances may increase. The 5 year survival rate, however, is just 10%. Even the 1 year survival rate for a Mesothelioma diagnosis stands at just 40%.
There are exceptions to this rule. A patient in Australia is about to reach the 20 year survival mark after diagnosis. There are at least two known cases of Mesothelioma that went into remission. Even with a positive test result and a confirmation of this diagnosis, it is always possible to beat the odds.
Age and co-existing medical conditions are a direct factor to an increased survival rate. Those who are younger tend to have higher long-term survival chances, while those who have other health issues that are being treated tend to have lower long-term survival rates. That’s why early presentation of potential Mesothelioma symptoms may trigger this blood test being ordered.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
The presence of biomarkers does not necessarily indicate that Mesothelioma has developed with a positive blood test. On the other hand, a negative test result when there are the signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma do not exclude a diagnosis either. Even with radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy, the diagnosis of Mesothelioma carries with it a rather poor prognosis, so a second opinion is always recommended.
Part of the reason why a Mesothelioma diagnosis is typically poor is because the tumors that develop from this condition don’t cause any symptoms until the reach a late stage.
What makes Mesothelioma difficult to detect is that the symptoms can sometimes fail to appear for more than 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Peritoneal Mesothelioma is less known compared to its pleural counterpart which causes coughing and chest pain, so symptoms like an ongoing fever, anemia, and bowel obstructions are often not considered to be problematic.
What Happens Next?
If the Mesothelioma blood test comes back as negative and the imaging results or biopsies do not indicate the presence of this medical condition, then further testing to track down the cause of bothersome symptoms will take place.
If Mesothelioma is the diagnosis, then there are trust funds which become available once it has been confirmed that this disease exists. The trust funds were established by the companies who brought asbestos to the general market and are designed to support those who have negative health consequences because of their exposure. The average claim receives $180,000 and there is over $30 billion in funding currently available.
On average, over 500,000 claims for asbestos-related injuries are paid out by these trust funds every year. Most people are eligible to apply for compensation once a diagnosis is received.
Mesothelioma is a serious disease that may have discouraging survival rates, but improvements have been being made over the years. The Mesothelioma blood test may help to detect this cancer at an earlier stage to further increase a person’s odds. Seek help immediately if any asbestos exposure is suspected, apply for financial assistance if Mesothelioma is confirmed, and you’ll have your best chance to defy the odds.