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The benefits of genetic testing for mesothelioma

Kentucky residents may be interested in recent medical developments related to mesothelioma, a condition caused by asbestos exposure. A doctor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center claims that genetic testing could lead to a more accurate prognosis for malignant mesothelioma, help identify the best possible treatment plans and also help family members determine their risk for the cancer. Back in 2011, this doctor identified the BAP1 gene mutation, which is the only recognized biological mechanism that makes patients more susceptible to mesothelioma.

He was also part of a research group that studied the survival advantages of mesothelioma patients with the BAP1 gene and other mutations. Their findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Oct. 30. Specifically, 70 percent of mesothelioma patients had the BAP1 mutation, but only 20 percent had cancerous tumors. Median survival among those with the mutation was five years after diagnosis; 15 percent lived at least 10 years.

The BAP1 mutation can be inherited, or it can develop when the cells become malignant. One positive trait of the mutation is that it leads to earlier detection, which in turn could encourage patients to participate in one of several clinical trials across the U.S.

Currently, only about one-third of mesothelioma patients have undergone genetic testing. Family members of mesothelioma patients can always consider screening; if they have the mutation, doctors could monitor and perhaps even correct it through gene therapy.

Unfortunately, many workers in the U.S. still find themselves working around dangerous asbestos. If one develops mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses and think that their employer's negligence contributed to it, they may have the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. This is where a lawyer can come in, evaluate the case and hire investigators and other experts to build up evidence. The lawyer can even handle negotiations for a settlement.

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