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New breath test may detect early-stage mesothelioma

Researchers hope that a test of breath-based biomarkers can help them detect mesothelioma in its early stages. Louisville residents should know that historically, the U.S. has been lagging behind Europe in the use of breath tests to identify cancer. In 2017, a study from Belgium showed the potential benefits of breath tests for asbestos-related conditions like mesothelioma.

Developing a breath test for early-stage mesothelioma is important because cancer typically goes undiagnosed until its later stages, by which time most patients can only receive palliative care. Less than 25% would be eligible for surgery. Those who are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma have a median survival rate of 9 to 18 months.

As part of the study, researchers will take the volatile organic compounds found on the breath of those with mesothelioma, predict the value of those compounds' biomarkers and see if a formula cannot be developed that would allow breath samples to identify the disease. A breath biopsy could augment the various tests that are normally used to diagnose mesothelioma, including tissue biopsies, CT scans and blood tests.

Many in the building industry are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, increasing their risk for mesothelioma. Every year in the U.S., an average of 3,000 people are diagnosed with the cancer, pleural mesothelioma being the most common.

Injured workers may be able to pursue a claim if they discover they are suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease. Building up such a claim might require the work of investigators. Getting legal representation, then, may be wise. Once it is proven that the other side's negligence indirectly caused the injury, the lawyer may strive for a settlement out of court.

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