Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer, caused by exposure to asbestos. Whilst there have been huge developments in the treatment of mesothelioma, allowing patients to live longer with a better quality of life, there is still no known cure.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma
There are many factors that affect what treatment a mesothelioma patient is offered, one of the main factors is the stage at which mesothelioma is diagnosed.
Pleural mesothelioma is an insidious disease, slowly affecting the patient’s lungs. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are also symptoms of many other conditions and as mesothelioma is a rare cancer, it can be one of the last to be considered. For many patients, by the time they are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, the cancer is well progressed. Once the mesothelioma has reached a certain point, the patient can be quite unwell, and surgery is often no longer an option.
Early diagnosis is vital
Early diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is key to being able to put together an effective action plan for treatment, to allow the patient the maximum time with the best quality of life.
Researchers have recently looked into the use of immunohistochemistry as a diagnostic tool to provide efficient and effective diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Diagnosis is difficult
Diagnosis of mesothelioma is currently done through biopsies and studying the cell pathology. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish cancer cells and misdiagnosis can happen.
The recent study has looked at the characteristics of pleural mesothelioma cells, compared to the cells of metastatic lung carcinoma.
From 2009 to 2013, researchers looked at the differences between the two cell types and concentrated on the proteins on the outer surfaces of the cells.
Using a regular microscope, the proteins are not visible but using immunohistochemistry dyes stains the proteins so they can be seen.
Analysing tissue samples from patients who had confirmed diagnoses of pleural mesothelioma or metastatic lung carcinoma, researchers tested for certain proteins and were able to identify two proteins found on either pleural mesothelioma cells and three proteins found on metastatic lung carcinoma cells.
Testing can differentiate between two cancers
By testing the cells for the five proteins found, researchers were able to differentiate between the two types of cancer. It is hoped this method can be used to facilitate the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma.
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Halimi, Monireh; Samad BeheshtiRouy; Davood Salehi & Seyed Ziaeddin Rasihashemi, 2019, The Role of Immunohistochemistry Studies in Distinguishing Malignant Mesothelioma from Metastatic Lung Carcinoma in Malignant Pleural Effusion, IRANIAN JOURNAL of PATHOLOGY 14 (2), https://www.civilica.com/Paper-JR_IJP-JR_IJP-14-2_004.html