The way your doctor typically tells for sure if you have mesothelioma is by ordering a biopsy. But an invasive diagnostic procedure like that could soon become a thing of the past.
Researchers in the United Kingdom are trying out a newly developed test that involves little more than taking a blood sample and subjecting it to intense ultraviolet light.
If the test holds up to scientific scrutiny, it could revolutionize the process of making a mesothelioma diagnosis.
More than that, it could revolutionize the diagnosis of virtually all types of malignancies. The reason is that the test appears to detect a universal tell-tale genetic sign left by cancer in whatever form it takes.
The sign is present when there is cancer. But it also is present shortly before cancer’s onset.
That’s why a test as easy to perform as this one could prove tremendously useful as a mesothelioma diagnosis tool.
An Easier Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The test is the brainchild of researchers toiling away at the University of Bradford. They published their findings in FASEB Journal — the peer-reviewed publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
The researchers characterized the results obtained in the course of trying out the new test as “remarkable” and “powerful.”
According to the researchers, their vision for the test is that it will give doctors a leg up on making reliable cancer diagnoses without the need of resorting to biopsies for confirmation.
Because they involve surgery, biopsies eat up much valuable time that otherwise could be used getting treatment started. The new test seeks to vastly speed things up.
For example, days or even weeks can pass between the time your doctor orders a mesothelioma diagnosis biopsy, performs the procedure and receives findings back from the lab where the tissue sample gets sent.
By contrast, with the blood test your doctor would in theory be able to obtain a sample from you in the morning and perhaps have a trustworthy mesothelioma diagnosis in hand later that same day.
A Cheaper Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The researchers also hail their new test as a breakthrough on two other fronts — cost and patient comfort.
Biopsies are not cheap. They cost a pretty penny.
On the other hand, the new test looks to be something that can be performed for a fraction the cost of a mesothelioma biopsy.
Biopsies also involve considerable discomfort. It’s surgery, after all — even if conducted using minimally invasive techniques.
By contrast, the new test requires only that you roll up your shirt sleeve and make a fist. A minute later, you’re done.
Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity Test
The concept underlying the new test is this: if your white blood cells have been trying to stop cancer from starting or advancing, they will be very genetically fragile.
Exposing them to ultraviolet light will cause them to suffer DNA damage much quicker than would be the case if they had not been embroiled in warding off or fighting cancer.
What’s more, the white blood-cells’ ultraviolet-damaged DNA will take on a distinctive shape if the DNA pieces are then bombarded by electromagnetic energy. Specifically, they will look like a comet tail. A short tail signifies minor DNA damage, while a long tail signifies extensive DNA damage — and a serious cancer threat.
The researchers call their innovation a Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity test. They found that the test detected cancer with impressive accuracy.
As reported in the journal article, the researchers ran it through its paces with blood samples obtained from 94 healthy individuals and 114 others suspected of having either lung cancer or some other malignancy.
It must be pointed out that the Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity test has yet to be proven. These early results look very encouraging, but more research will be required.
The researchers indicate that a larger clinical trial of the Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity test is gearing up to see how well it does with detecting colorectal cancer.