Researchers at the University of Bristol have made a breakthrough in mesothelioma monitoring. Currently, mesothelioma patients have to be monitored after having treatment to look out for any recurrence or progression of their disease. This monitoring requires the patient to have CT scans, which are costly and expose patients to damaging ionising radiation. However, new research may mean that such monitoring can be done in the future with a simple blood test.

Monitoring mesothelioma recurrence and progression is extremely important – it shows whether treatment is effective and helps patients to make informed decisions about their care. Below we discuss the study and its findings.

The study

The study was published by BMC cancer and is the first of its kind.  In the study, 41 mesothelioma patients, who had either recently completed chemotherapy or other supportive care, were monitored long-term. Their blood tests were reviewed, and their mesothelin levels were measured. Mesothelin is a protein found in mesothelial cells, and soluble mesothelin is found in the blood and pleural fluid of pleural mesothelioma patients.

Patients had three-monthly blood tests for at least 12 months, paired with CT scans at 3, 6, and 12 months. Amazingly, the study found that the levels of mesothelin correlated with tumour bulk, and the stage of the patient’s mesothelioma.


The results are as follows. For epithelial mesothelioma, the blood tests were 96% accurate, the blood tests were 80% accurate for sarcomatoid mesothelioma, and for patients whose disease had not progressed, the accuracy was 74%.

Although this study has had promising results, lead researcher De Fonseka is aware that only a small number of patients were involved. He stated that, “Our study was not strong enough to make any firm determinations. We need further studies. That was the pilot.”

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de Fonseka, D. et al. (2018, February 17). A prospective study to investigate the role of serial serum mesothelin in monitoring mesothelioma. Retrieved from

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