08/17/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma lawyers: Cooney & Conway

A discovery related to mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer, is giving victims new hope. Australian scientists recently discovered that high levels of a family of proteins—known as serum mesothelin—are found in patients with the asbestos-related cancer.

That breakthrough has spurred researchers to ask whether mesothelin levels could be useful in creating a screening test to identify people who are most at risk for mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos.

The facts about mesothelioma have long been sobering. The deadly cancer—almost always caused by asbestos exposure—can take many years to develop, and by the time a diagnosis is rendered, a patient’s outlook is invariably grim. While mesothelioma lawyers have been able to obtain compensation for many who have suffered, mesothelioma researchers have fared less well: Even the most sophisticated treatments today typically only extend a victim’s life by a few months.

The new screening test discovered could possibly lead to earlier diagnoses, which might result in more effective treatment. It could also give victims more time to see justice.

Much asbestos exposure is caused by the failure of employers, manufacturers, and property owners to reasonably use, remove, or warn workers about the material—which has heat- and fire-resistant qualities that have long made it a popular component of insulation, ceilings, and flooring. In many of these cases, mesothelioma lawyers have prevailed in the asbestos lawsuits they have brought before the court.

But often it is the family of the victim—not the mesothelioma sufferer—that sees the case’s resolution. That’s because mesothelioma victims do not usually survive long after diagnosis.

To get a better sense of whether mesothelin could make a useful test for mesothelioma, the Australian researchers measured mesothelin levels at various times for several individuals who had been exposed to asbestos. The researchers found that 15 percent of those who ultimately developed mesothelioma had an elevated level of mesothelin in the next-to-last reading before diagnosis. They found, too, that for 40 percent of all the individuals studied, mesothelin levels were increasing at the same point.

This means that for a significant portion of patients, mesothelin levels prior to diagnosis were high. When combined with other biomarkers for mesothelioma, the researchers say, this could give rise to more sensitive screens for the asbestos-related disease.

Ultimately, such screening tests might enable doctors to detect earlier those who are most at risk for mesothelioma. While not a cure, that would be a significant step in fighting this devastating disease.

This news story was brought to you by the Chicago mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been champions of those injured due to the negligence or wrongful actions of others. We have litigated, settled, and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing answers and compensation to victims of asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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