Discovery Could enhance Treatment for Cancer Patients

Discovery Could enhance Treatment for Cancer Patients

Researchers at the Asbestos Disease Research Institute in Australia have discovered a “tumor marker” which could help oncologists provide more precisely tailored treatment options to mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma (formally known as malignant mesothelioma) is a scarce form of cancer that receives approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new diagnoses each year.

Researcher Nico Van Zandwuck, said a blood-borne marking factor can help determine how aggressive an individual patient’s form of mesothelioma will be, and how it will respond to various treatment options. This information could help oncologists adjust treatment for particular patients with minimal side effects. However, the patient must be physically able to tolerate the treatment.

In addition, therapeutic advances in surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy now allow oncologists to expand treatment options into novel areas. For example, radiation therapy- once seen as largely palliative, meaning treatment that improved breathing and pain- can now be used to re-treat an area that once saw the treatment of traditional surgery to remove cancerous tissue.

Barry Robson, a former Australian dock worker who handled his fair proportion of asbestos and president of the Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia, commended the Asbestos Disease Research Institute for its quick (18-month) identification of the marker. He also noted the agency’s importance in current mesothelioma treatment, where the period of death from diagnosis is approximately 135 days.

Mesothelioma tissues are those that surround and protect the body’s vital organs. These organs include the lungs, the heart, and the abdominal organs. Peritoneal mesothelioma, or mesothelioma cancer surrounding the abdominal regions, is the rarest form of mesothelioma and occurs in fewer than two percent of all mesothelioma situations.

Mesothelioma is an insidious cancer – While at work, home, or school, individuals may inhale or ingest asbestos fibers. The disease lays idle for many years- sometimes for up to 50 years. Early and accurate diagnosis can make it easier to treat. There is currently no cure for the disease, but researchers are hopeful that new research like the studies that have been done at the Asbestos Disease Research Institute could greatly extend patients’ lives. Those diagnoses during Stage II or later, when the cancer has spread to other tissues and organs in the body, are only given about one year to live.

Usually, diagnosis is confirmed by an MRI, CT examine, or X-ray. An X-ray will show pleural effusions, a typical manifestation of mesothelioma. Scarring from asbestos or tissue masses suggesting a tumor can also alert physicians of a possible mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma symptoms include pain in the chest or abdominal vicinity, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, or fatigue.

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