Mesothelioma Blood Tests

Mesothelioma Blood Tests

Biomarkers are special compounds in the bloodstream that may indicate the existence of mesothelioma. Blood examinations called “assays” can be utilized by doctors to discover these biomarkers and point out the need for additional diagnostic tests.
Despite the fact that biomarker assays can not validate a mesothelioma diagnosis on their own, they could be a valuable resource for spotting mesothelioma earlier than other tests. Since early recognition is the ideal way to improve prognosis, specialists continue working to find new blood tests and improve existing ones in an effort to catch the deadly disease before it spreads.
Mesothelioma is a sudden and devastating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This terminal disease occurs unexpectedly usually 20 to 40 or more years after asbestos exposure. Anyone can be exposed from everyday locations, such as homes, workplaces, schools, and even by direct contact with someone who has asbestos dust contamination on their clothes. Wives and children of workers that were exposed to asbestos have also been shown to be at risk of this disease as a result of personal exposure to asbestos dust on their loved one’s clothing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is no evidence of any asbestos exposure level that is considered safe. In conclusion, there is not a certain level of exposure that can decrease your chance of developing the disease. All levels will may lead to this unfortunate disease.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, seek out a mesothelioma experienced physician as soon as possible in order to receive proper treatment. If diagnosis is early you will have access to a wider array of treatment opportunities with more promising results. Additional information and statistics about mesothelioma can be found within this section.

What Exactly Is a Mesothelioma Biomarker?

Cancer cells use nutrients at a much faster rate than regular cells, which can lead to an unnecessary amount of cellular by-products in the blood stream. These higher levels of byproducts are called biomarkers due to the fact that they leave a different biological mark than normal cells.
For example, typical mesothelial cells produce a glycoprotein (sugar + protein molecule) called mesothelin. Malignant mesothelioma cells produce mesothelin as well, but in much higher quantities, in part due to their faster rates of growth. A number of mesothelioma biomarker assays look for increased levels of mesothelin, or byproducts of mesothelin, as an indication that a mesothelioma tumor may exist.

What Biomarker Blood Tests Exist for Mesothelioma?


One particular fragment of the glycoprotein mesothelin is known as N-ERC/mesothelin. In some studies, researchers have detected N-ERC/mesothelin in blood serum with a 95% rate of sensitivity – a very good accuracy rate, but not quite high enough to allow diagnosis on its own.
While this particular biomarker assay is extremely promising, additional testing is required before it could be used widely for mesothelioma diagnosis. Another potential use for the test would be to monitor mesothelioma patients after they receive chemotherapy treatments, to determine whether the mesothelioma had recurred.


Another glycoprotein that can be found in higher levels in individuals with certain types of cancer is osteopontin. In 2005, Dr. Harvey Pass and a team of colleagues showed that mesothelioma also produced glycoprotein at increased levels.
Although osteopontin may be a good indicator of whether a person is ill, it is poor at diagnosing mesothelioma specifically. This is due to the fact that osteopontin levels can increase not only due to cancer, but also due to other conditions, including kidney stones, ischemic stroke, and various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.


Yet another glycoprotein produced by mesothelioma cells is fibulin-3. Early studies that tested for this substance showed great promise, with sensitivity levels as high as 97%. However, in recent studies, that high level of accuracy could not be substantiated, meaning that the test may be unsuitable for diagnostic purposes.
Even if a fibulin-3 test cannot diagnose mesothelioma, there may still be some beneficial uses for it. In particular, after a mesothelioma diagnosis, fibulin-3 could be used to help doctors track the progress of the cancer, as well as the effectiveness of treatment efforts. Fibulin-3 could also help doctors distinguish between malignant and benign diseases of the lungs and pleura.


MesoMark works by testing for high levels of soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs), which are fragments or variants of mesothelin – a substance produced in small quantities by healthy mesothelial cells, and in much higher quantities by mesothelioma cancer cells, especially in those who have pleural mesothelioma. These SMRPs are found in the serum part of the blood, though they can also be found in pleural fluid as well.
SMRP levels tend to be higher in individuals with Stage 3 or Stage 4 mesothelioma, and as a result the MesoMark assay is more accurate in those later stages of the disease. Overall, the sensitivity of the test ranges widely, from about 19 to 68 percent, making it insufficient to diagnose mesothelioma on its own.

HMGB1 (High Mobility Group Box Protein 1)

This relatively new biomarker assay is showing a lot of promise as a way to detect mesothelioma early. In a recently published study, researchers found that not only could different levels of HMGB1 distinguish between those who have mesothelioma and those who don’t – it could also differentiate between those who had been exposed to asbestos and those who have not!
HMGB1 has been used as a biomarker for other types of cancer, such non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). As a mesothelioma biomarker, HMGB1 could not only provide a way to detect the cancer, but also serve as a way to monitor asbestos exposure in general and serve as an indicator for risk factors of other asbestos-related diseases.

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms by Type

Even though a few symptoms are common to all types of the disease, mesothelioma symptoms are strongly tied to the location of the mesothelioma cancerous growths in the body.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
The most frequent form of mesothelioma, pleural develops in the cellular linings of the lungs and accounts roughly 75 percent of all occurrences of the disease. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma often affect breathing and the thoracic cavity (chest), and they can often be involved when it comes to complications associated to other health conditions, such as pneumonia, flu, or even lung cancer.
Signs and symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include: Chest pain and general body ache, Chronic coughing, Pleural effusion – a buildup of fluid linings of the lungs, Weight loss – especially if sudden and / or unexplained, Fatigue, Fever and night sweats.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
The lining within the abdominal area is recognized as the peritoneum and is where peritoneal mesothelioma develops, accounting for roughly one quarter of mesothelioma cases. Because the abdomen consists of many different organs, signs and symptoms can differ significantly, depending on precisely where within the abdominal area cancerous growths occur and which organs may be affected. Signs and symptoms such lack of appetite, swelling, and abdominal pain can often be confused for diseases related to systemic problems or specific organs, rather than mesothelioma.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include: Abdominal pain and swelling, Loss of appetite (anorexia), Weight loss – especially if unexpected or sudden, Ascites – a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, Anemia – most often in women, Bowel obstruction, Fever, Nausea
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
Less than 1 percent of mesothelioma cancer cases effect the lining of the heart (the pericardium) and unfortunately in numerous scenarios the disease is not detected until after the patient perishes. Signs and symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma can often mimic other health conditions, such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, or pericarditis (an inflammation of the pericardium).
Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma consist of: Chest pain, Pericardial effusion – fluid buildup between the heart and pericardium, Arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat or palpitations, Heart murmur, Dyspnea – shortness of breath, Fever and night sweats

Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma arises in the membrane which surrounds the lung, called the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this deadly cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common but is more often found in women than in men.

Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.

Mesothelioma Treatment

After being diagnosed with Mesothelioma, it is suggested that treatment options should be aggressively explored with mesothelioma experienced physicians.  There are a number of treatment options for Mesothelioma through surgery, radiation therapy and certain chemotherapy.  Several surgeons have pioneered progressive surgical options for mesothelioma victims, including Dr. Harvey Pass, (NYU Langone Cancer Center), Dr. David Sugarbaker (Baylor College of Medicine) and Dr. Raphael Bueno (Brigham and Women’s Hospital).  Research on the most effective chemotherapy regimens continues and to date Alimta and Cisplatin have been shown to be very helpful in some patients. ALIMTA is a treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a cancer that affects the inside lining of the chest cavity. ALIMTA is used with cisplatin, another anticancer medicine (chemotherapy), when surgery is not an option.
Some Mesothelioma patients may want to explore the latest experimental treatment options and clinical trials. Certain non-conventional alternative therapies are being studied and may provide some benefit to patients with Mesothelioma. Understanding that all forms of Mesothelioma are rare and are considered a form of lethal cancer, it is critical to discuss all available treatment options with your family and the best Mesothelioma expert treating internists, pulmonologists, oncologists and surgeons.  

How Effective Are Mesothelioma Blood Tests?

Currently, there are no biomarker assays which can have been approved for diagnosing mesothelioma on their own. At best, these blood tests can point out the possibility that a mesothelioma tumor exists, therefore giving medical professionals a basis to perform further diagnostic methods, such as a biopsy.
Nevertheless, there are some promising developments in recent clinical trials. For instance, in one recent study a biomarker known as HMGB1 was able to distinguish between people which had mesothelioma cancer, people who had been exposed to asbestos (but did not have mesothelioma), and people who had no known asbestos exposure.
Given such hopeful news, researchers are continuing to fine-tune existing blood examinations and look for new biomarkers that can detect mesothelioma early. If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos and are exhibiting mesothelioma symptoms, it may be worthwhile to network with a mesothelioma specialist to discuss the effectiveness of biomarker assays and other diagnostic tests.

Mesothelioma News

Asbestos Exposure & Cancer

The only known cause of Mesothelioma is Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940’s through as late as the 1990’s in some cases.  Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of Mesothelioma Victims. Understanding that Mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, this directly means that whoever exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust is responsible for their death.
Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White have been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We strongly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist all persons diagnosed with Mesothelioma.
Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos.  People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990’s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust.  A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940’s through the 1990’s could have been exposed to Asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.

The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins.  Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.

Common Mesothelioma Symptoms by Type

  1. Pneumonia
  2. Emphysema
  3. Asthma
  4. Bronchial infections
  5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  6. Adenocarcinoma and other lung cancers
  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  2. Crohn’s Disease
  3. Hernia
  4. Ovarian cancer
  5. Other cancers affecting abdominal organs
  1. Coronary artery disease
  2. Heart failure
  3. Tuberculosis pericarditis
  4. Other heart-related cancers, such as synovial sarcoma

Top Mesothelioma Doctors

Only the best, just for you.

Dr. Raphael Bueno

Dr. Raphael Bueno

Chief of Division of Thoracic Surgery; Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research

Dr. Raphael Bueno is the Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research at Boston’s Brigham and

Dr. Harvey Pass

Dr. Harvey Pass

Chief of Division of Thoracic Surgery

Dr. Harvey Pass is a renowned thoracic surgeon that has dedicated his career to bringing increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Dr. Robert Brian Cameron

Dr. Robert Brian Cameron

Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncologist

Dr. Robert Brian Cameron currently serves as the Director of Thoracic Oncology at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.

Dr. David Sugarbaker

Dr. David Sugarbaker

Professor of Surgery, Chief of General Thoracic Surgery, Director of the Lung Institute

Dr. David Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Lary Robinson

Dr. Lary Robinson

Director, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Dr. Lary A. Robinson is currently the Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.

Dr. Anne Tsao

Dr. Anne Tsao

Director, Mesothelioma Program / Thoracic Chemo-Radiation Program

As director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, Anne Tsao M.D. is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on malignant mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is Commonly Misdiagnosed

All forms of Mesothelioma cancer are often misdiagnosed in early stages.  This is partially due to the fact that many mesothelioma symptoms resemble the symptoms of other diseases. Mesothelioma is extremely rare and doctors may be more inclined to diagnose a more common disease first.  Misdiagnosis can differ depending on the form of mesothelioma a patient may have or how common the displayed symptoms may be with other diseases.
On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we strongly recommend you consult a Mesothelioma experienced medical physician for any advice related to treatment options and care. We care deeply about your situation and only want the very best for you & your family. We have some of Top Mesothelioma Doctors & latest Clinical Trials listed and linked on our website. Why not check out the Top Mesothelioma Doctors page or even the Clinical Trials page for more accurate information on who can help you & what new clinical trials are available to apply for. We also have some of the Top Cancer Centers listed and linked on our website.

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