Quicker way to diagnose asbestos cancer

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Scientists say they have developed a quicker way of diagnosing the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a type of tumour that is found on the surface of the lung and is very hard to treat, when it can be treated at all. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and develops decades after exposure. It has particularly affected tradesmen such as joiners, plumbers and electricians around Europe.

The team of researchers from Oxford University looked at the build-up of fluid in the cavity surrounding the lungs, measuring the levels of a substance called meothelin. This new method could provide a way for doctors to quickly diagnose the mesothelioma and minimise the number of invasive procedures needed. This would reduce the time a patient would need to spend in the hospital for diagnosis and provide more time for possible interventions such as chemotherapy.

Dr Paul Beckett of the British Thoracic Society says this method may “improve the outlook for this disease, as well as avoiding unnecessary tests in those who don't have mesothelioma.”


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