Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that is caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers that become deeply imbedded in lung tissue where they lay dormant for 20 to 40 years. Mesothelioma typically claims the lives of its victims in less than two years post-diagnosis, but a new diagnostic breath test that measures mesothelioma biomarkers may offer new hope for prolonging the lives of those with the disease.
Researchers from the United Kingdom’s Owlstone Medical Corporation and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union have joined forces in a three-year study that aims to develop a biomarker breath test for the early detection of mesothelioma. Owlstone Medical has already invented the Breath Biopsy apparatus, which researchers hope will allow them to extract organic and chemical compounds on a person’s breath that could lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
New technology and biomarker indicators can potentially lead to identifying people who are at-risk for developing the disease in later years. Occupational exposure to asbestos fibers leads to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year. Unfortunately, the current diagnostic procedure is only effective in diagnosing a late-stage disease that has very limited treatment options.
Research has shown that early diagnosis of mesothelioma initiates treatment that can significantly prolong the lifespan for those diagnosed with this cancer. The United States has been slow to develop tools for early detection of the disease. Current diagnosis requires a combination of X-rays, CAT scans, PET scans, blood tests, and tissue biopsies, but still does not pick up the presence of the disease until it is in the advanced stages. Mortality rates decrease significantly with each advancing stage of the illness.
Occupational exposure to toxic asbestos fibers is the leading cause of mesothelioma. Construction workers, auto mechanics, railroad workers, pipe fitters, steam fitters, and miners carry the highest risk for developing the disease. Despite new regulations and removal of asbestos-based products, this malignant cancer is expected to keep claiming victims for decades because of its long dormancy period.
While those that work in asbestos-related industries have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma, second-hand exposure has proven to be equally toxic. Family members of asbestos workers inhaled the toxic fibers from the clothing and hair of their loved ones returning home from work each day. Many people were also exposed to fibers when old buildings containing asbestos were knocked down or became damaged, which sent the toxic fibers into the air and onto the grounds surrounding the buildings.
With the future of new cases of mesothelioma on the horizon, the potential for early detection that the new breath test offers hope to those most vulnerable to developing the disease. With early detection and treatment, victims can possibly extend their quality of life and life span for years to come.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware offices serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.