Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Researchers are constantly studying ways to improve mesothelioma diagnosis because earlier diagnosis gives patients more treatment options. More treatment options can result in a longer survival time. New research shows promising results for a method of diagnosing patients earlier.

New research

Researchers at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm have been looking at the criteria for cytopathological diagnosis of mesothelioma. Cytopatholoy involves examining cells from the pleural effusion, or excess fluid in the lungs, which is caused by the disease. This fluid is then used to diagnose mesothelioma, as an alternative to diagnosing the disease by using cells from a lung tissue biopsy. A lung tissue biopsy is a very invasive procedure and can often lead to a delayed diagnosis.

The team studied 85 patients with pleural mesothelioma who had been diagnosed between 2004 and 2013. They concluded that lung fluid could be used to diagnose mesothelioma with “high positive predictive value” and that the diagnosis could potentially result in better mesothelioma outcomes.

Lead author, Anders Hjerpe, said: “With the earlier diagnosis obtained by cytology, a better effect of chemotherapy can be expected, as shown by the longer overall survival in these patients, compared with those with a histopathological diagnosis.”

This is a positive step for mesothelioma patients as diagnosis from pleural fluid could lead to earlier diagnoses and less-invasive procedures.

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Hjerpe, A, et al, “Cytopathological Diagnosis of Epithelioid and Mixed-Type Malignant Mesothelioma: Ten Years of Clinical Experience in Relation to International Guidleines,” August 2019, Archives of Pathological and Laboratory Medicine, pp. 893-901.

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